News Highlights: Sudan’s civilians and military reach agreement, airstrike kills 44 migrants and refugees in Libya, Captain Sea-Watch freed

In this week’s news highlights: Sudan’s military and civilian groups reach agreement, Snipers opened fire during a civilian protest march; Ethiopia and Eritrea to connect naval infrastructure; Eritrea is chairing the UNHRC despite human rights abuses; Eritrean protest symbols features by Italian draughtsman; Migrants detained in a Libyan hangar died of hunger, thirst and diseases; Libyan military strikes killed and injured hundreds of migrants; Canadian firm’s contract with Sudan denounced by Amnesty International; Arrested German captain of the rescue ship finally freed by Italian court; The court rules out the transfer under the Dublin regulation; the US and China are in feud over influence in Africa.

Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan: Agreement of power-sharing deal is reached between military and opposition groups
On 4 July, the Sudan’s civilian protest leaders and opposition groups reached agreement with the military leaders, to establish power-sharing council that will rule the country by rule of rotation. The joint military-civilian sovereign council will grant five seats to representatives from both sides and it will be at the head of transition process for at least three years, reports Al Jazeera. The agreement “opens the way for the formation of the institutions of the transitional authority, and we hope that this is the beginning of a new era”, said Omar al-Degair, leader of an umbrella organization of the opposition.The Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the civilian leaders also pledged to launch investigation of violence committed towards the protesters.

Sudan: Snipers open fire during a civilian protest march against military leaders
During a civilian protest march on 30 June unidentified gunmen opened fire on demonstrators in Khartoum, injuring nine people, including three soldiers, said a military official. Thousands of protesters were marching against military rule, demanding a civilian-led transitional body, declared Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the deputy chairman of the Sudan Transitional Military Council (TMC). According to Bloomberg, no responsibility for the firefight has been claimed. The Europe External Action Service spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, published a statement on 28 June declaring that the civilian transition remained unfulfilled in Sudan and the EU is ready to support a civilian-led transitional authority in order to normalize EU-Sudan relations.

Sudan: Amnesty International asks for an enquiry about Canadian firm’s contract with Sudan
After a Canadian lobbying company signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Sudan’s military regime in early May, Amnesty International calls for an investigation on whether the contract contributes to human-rights abuses in Sudan, reports the Globe and Mail. According to the NGO, the US $6 million contract is promoting the interests of the military regime that has imprisoned and killed protesters after seizing power in Khartoum. The security forces of the regime killed more than 100 protesters camped outside the military headquarters in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. But hundreds of thousands of protesters returned to the streets of Sudan’s cities on Sunday, refusing to abandon their quest for civilian rule.

Eritrea & Ethiopia: Ethiopia to connect its network infrastructure with Eritrean port towns
On 27 June the Ethiopian government announced the launching of a railway line connecting the country with Eritrean port cities. According to Construction Review, the ports of Assab and Massawa will be linked with North, East and central parts of Ethiopia. For the moment, Ethiopia has rails, roads and power connectivity with Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan. Italian Deputy Minister and President of Italian Trade Agency declared that Italy has provided US $170 million and Italian businesses delivered US $672 billion to finance this project. 

Eritrea: Eritrean regime is chairing the Human Rights Council despite human rights violations
German media, Deutsche Welle reports that despite Eritrea being continuously accused of human rights violations of its citizens, the country is currently chairing the UN Human Rights Council. Human rights organizations describe the situation in Eritrea as “worrying”, writes the media. Despite the recent peace agreement with Ethiopia, the country is still quite sealed off and the degree of political and civil freedom is very limited. The UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea first appointed in 2012 has always been refused access to the country..

Eritrea: Italian draughtsman Gianluca Costantini features Eritrean protest symbols
The Channel Draw website featured portraits of the Italian cartoonist Gianluca Costantini, representing various Eritrean resistance figures from the world of journalism and information. Each drawing is accompanied by a description summarizing their activities before their arrest by the Eritrean authorities. Among these defenders are Amanuel Asrat, a former publisher and poet; Fessahaye ‘Joshua’ Yohannes, a poet journalist and playwright; and Seyoum Tsehaye, a freelance journalist and foreign freedom fighter.

North of Africa

Libya: Deadly airstrike at Tripoli migrant detention centre
On Wednesday 3 July an air raid killed 44 migrants and wounded more than 130 others in the Tajoura detention centre near the Libyan capital Tripoli, reports Aljazeera. The detention centre holding Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali refugees was located near a military camp. According to Africa News, this is the heaviest toll of an air strike since the eastern forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar launched offensive operations three months ago with ground troops and planes fighting for the capital held by the internationally recognized government. Both UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization on Migration condemned the attack on the migrant detention centre and are calling for an immediate investigation.

Libya: Detained migrants in Libyan hangar died of hunger, thirst, heat and insalubrity
On 30 June the Associated Press agency reported that 22 migrants held in a detention centre  in the desert led by a Libyan militia died of hunger, thirst and squalor. According to InfoMigrants, 700 detainees were held since September in a hangar  in Zintan filled with worms, rubbish, diseases and excrement. “We need emergency evacuation from Zintan,” one survivor declared to the Associated Press. “We suffer physically, mentally and emotionally.” UN humanitarian agencies were accused by survivors of having “turned a blind eye” to the situation in detention center and for their delayed response, writes InfoMigrants. The UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi contests this information, telling the Associated Press they had no access to the centre.

Europe and West

Italy: Arrested German captain of the rescue ship is freed by Italian court
On Saturday 29 June, Carola Rackete, a German captain of the rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 was arrested by Italian police as she docked the vessel at Lampedusa without permission from the authorities. There were 41 migrants on board. She was arrested for hitting a police speedboat while entering the port. The Italian court did not find her guilty of endangering lives as the ship hit the police boat and ruled that she be released immediately. Ms Rackete still faces possible charges of helping illegal migrants to cross Mediterannean Sea. 

Dublin regulation is ruled out as German court voids the transfer of an asylum seeker and her daughter to France
On 28 June the European lawyer network ELENA reported that on the 25 April the German Administrative Court ruled out the transfer of an asylum seeker and her daughter to France under the Dublin regulation, considering the risks of inhuman and degrading treatment they may face. The French authorities waited 45 days to lodge their application, during which they were not able to enter a shelter, stated ELENA. After that, they wanted to obtain refugee status in Germany, but they encountered the Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that only one European Union Member State can examine an asylum application. According to the German court, the applicant and her daughter were risking another “humanitarian emergency” in the event of a further return to France. The German judges cited Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to which “No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, reports l’Obs. This is the first suspension of the transfer under the Dublin regulation involving return of asylum applicant to France.

United States of America and China in feud over influence in Africa
On 1 July Aljazeera wrote that tensions between China and the US “will be detrimental to African prosperity and peace” and might create a “new cold war in Africa”. US officials seek to invest $60 billion in low and middle-income countries, with a special focus on Africa, reports Aljazeera. This measure came six months after the New Africa Strategy was presented to the president Trump’s administration. According to the document: “Great power competitors, namely China and Russia, are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa.” China traded US $140 billion in 2017. “They are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States.” Under this report, it appears that Africa is becoming another battleground for the escalating trade war between China and the US, especially because of the presence of foreign military troops and camps and the growing diplomatic dissent.