News Highlights: Eritrea round-ups of youth increase, reports of Sudan troops in Libya, deadly shipwreck at Libyan coast

In this week’s news highlights: Round-ups (Giffas) of youth for national service in Eritrea; Eritrean catholic church disputes government claims over health clinic seizure; Concerns over stalled Eritrea/Ethiopia trade; School students killed in Sudan protest; 115 people feared dead in Libyan shipwreck, survivors returned to Libya; Sudanese militia reportedly deployed in Libya; Refugees remain in detention after protest Egypt; UK detained victims of trafficking; 5 EU countries agree to resettle 116 stranded refugees and migrants; and law professor argues why ICC should move to prosecute the EU.

Highlights go on summer break
During the month of August, the news highlights will stop for a few weeks. The news highlights, as well as the next edition of Trends in Human Trafficking, will return at the end of August.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Round-ups increase as youth refuses to go to national service
A new wave of round-ups of youth, so called Giffas, is ongoing in Eritrea. The round-ups are organised to take young Eritreans to Sawa for national service training. According to BBC Tigrinya information, the round-ups started on 15, 16 and 17 July, and are particularly focused on the Western Lowlands area. The round-ups in Hagaz – South of  Keren – were reported to be particularly intense. Reports of Giffas are also coming from Asmara and the Debub-region. September is usually the month for that Eritrean  youth  are required  to report for national service training  and completion of high school in Sawa, but, despite warnings by local administrations of consequences to their families as a result of failure to report for national service,  the  youth is increasingly unwilling to do so. Recently, Ethiopian authorities confirmed that 250-300 Eritreans continue to register in Ethiopian refugee camps every day, an estimated 30-50% of whom flee directly from the national service. The Eritrean Government continues to affirm the value and necessity of the National Service and is preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sawa.

Eritrea: Catholic church provides further clarification on seizure of health clinics
Several weeks ago, 22 Catholic health clinics in Eritrea were shut down and seized by the Eritrean government. The Eritrean Catholic Church has provided a statement with further clarifications over the seizure. The letter refutes several claims by the Eritrean government which attempted to justify the nationalization of the health clinics. The clinics are currently not being operated by the government.

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Concerns over stalled trade and progress
reports on concern from traders and border communities in Ethiopia and Eritrea over the stalled progress on trade between the two countries. Although border crossings initially opened after the peace agreement, they currently remain closed, with governments on both sides failing to provide information on the reasons.

Sudan: Schools suspended after students are killed in protest, four others killed in Omdurman
Five people, four of them students, were reported killed after protests in El-Obeid, North Kordofan, were violently suppressed. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are accused by the protesters of carrying out the shooting. 62 people were reported injured. After the killings, mass protests broke out in the capital of Khartoum, after which the military leaders of the country ordered all school lessons be suspended. Four more protesters were reported killed in Omdurman on Thursday. Despite the violence and rising tensions, negotiations between the opposition leaders and the military are said to have resumed on Thursday night.

Horn of Africa: Drought warning
International organisations, as well as the United Nations, warn of drought in the Horn of Africa region. Drought was especially reported in regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The UN Refugee Agency is especially concerned that the abnormally dry rainy season in Somalia may cause further destabilization in the country.

North of Africa

Libya: 115 people feared dead in deadliest shipwreck this year
115 people are missing, feared drowned, after a ship with 250 refugees and migrants on board sank close to the coast of Libya. The remaining people were rescued by fishermen and returned to Libya by the Libyan coast guard. In a statement, the EU High Representative and Commissioner for Migration urged for solutions on the search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea as well as alternatives for crossing, such as resettlement. They further stated that ”Libya’s current system of managing irregular migration and arbitrarily detaining refugees and migrants has to end.”

Libya: Sudanese military deployed in Libya
Sudanese Radio Dabanga reports that 1,000 Sudanese troops from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have arrived in Libya in order to protect oil installations for General Haftar. It was reported earlier that an Egyptian source had revealed that the influx of militia is funded by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who have strong ties with RSF leader Hemeti. The forces are reportedly sent so that General Haftar can focus his forces on the attack on Tripoli, where he is fighting against the internationally recognized Government of National Accord.

Egypt: Refugees remain in detention over protest
Africa Monitors
reports on the ongoing detention of several Eritrean refugees after a protest march last week. The refugees report that a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) protection officer called the police, stating that the refugees were attacking the UNHCR compound. The refugees state, however, that the march was peaceful and that they were grateful for the work of UNHCR, but wanted to present a letter over security concerns. Five refugees remain in custody and report overcrowded and unhygienic conditions. They have not yet found legal representation.


UK: Victims of human trafficking detained
A group of charities has accused the government of the United Kingdom of prioritizing immigration control over human rights, as it found that 255 confirmed victims of human trafficking were held in detention between 2016 and 2018. The report states that for 56 people were identified as victims before being detained, whereas 10 were identified in detention but were not released. Charities also state that indications of trafficking were often missed or ignored by the UK’s Home Office.

Italy: Deal reached to disembark migrants and refugees
The ship Bruno Gregoretti, with around 116 people on board that were rescued on the Mediterranean Sea, was refused the right to disembark for several days in a Sicilian port. A deal was reached as Germany, France, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland agreed to receive the people on board. The total of around 140 people were rescued last week. Children and those considered vulnerable were allowed to disembark earlier.

European Union: ICC case on EU human rights violations should move forward
An opinion article in The Conversation by law professor Kerstin Carlson argues that the 245-page challenge issued to the International Criminal Court on the issue of human rights violations in EU’s migration policies should move forward. The document was submitted in June by lawyers Juan Branco and Omer Shatz. Can and should the ICC move forward to prosecute? Carlson argues yes, on both counts.