News Highlights: IGAD discusses migration, 5 EU interior ministers agree on temporary relocation system, new migration routes in Tunisia difficult to detect

In this week’s news highlights: Seven East-African Ministers lament shrinking of protection for refugees worldwide; EU should pressure Eritrea, states commentary; Water shortage in Asmara; Military cooperation Ethiopia and United Arab Emirates advances; IOM to assist in improving Ethiopia and South Sudan migration policies; Ethiopia and Somalia among African countries with most internally displaced people; 5 European interior ministers create new relocation policy; Eritrean diaspora Yiakl movement protests against regime; Right-wing movement patrolling UK beaches; CEO of IRC argues that the EU should send signal of solidarity; Tunisia boat departures may be harder to detect; Migrant shot by Libyan coast guard; and the UN General Assembly on Libya.

Greater Horn of Africa

IGAD: Seven East-African Ministers participate in inter-state meeting on migration
On September 18, migration was discussed by seven East-African ministers of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – notably, the eight IGAD member Eritrea was not present. The countries announced that they will continue to address “root causes of increased numbers of refugees and other drivers of forced displacements”. The countries observe that forced displacement is increasing, while the space for protection and tolerance of refugees worldwide is declining. In an official announcement, it is expressed that the attendants recognise “the shrinking of protection and asylum space worldwide as a result of intolerance, closing of borders and forced the return of refugees as well as reduced opportunities for resettlements”.

Eritrea/Ethiopia: Commentary on the effectiveness of the Eritrean-Ethiopian peace deal
The peace deal of 2018 between the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments was seen as a chance for cooperation between the two historically antagonistic countries. However, Nicole Hirt explains in a commentary for the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale that as a consequence of the Eritrean government closing the borders of the country, the effectiveness of the peace deal can be questioned. Despite the peace agreement, Hirt highlights that the Eritrean regime firstly wishes to maintain its ruling. Hirt argues that it is time the international community puts pressure on Eritrea to implement real changes and that the European Union should stop support of the national service through projects that tacitly accept the conditions of forced labour, such as the European-funded road building project in Eritrea.

Eritrea: Water shortage in Asmara
Reports from Radio Erena state that Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, is currently coping with major water shortages. However, sources report that the problem is government-created. It is reported that not only bottled water, but also tap water has been restricted. Notices have also circulated on social media that seem to demonstrate the Eritrean government strictly controlling the price of goods.

Ethiopia: Military cooperation Ethiopia and United Arab Emirates continuous
Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, the Chief of Staff of the United Arab Emirates armed forces, visited Ethiopia to meet with General Adem Mohammed, the chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Force. The Generals discussed the advancement of military cooperation between the two nations and shared their views on issues that affect both countries.

Ethiopia/South Sudan: Ethiopia and South Sudan ask for help on new migration policies
Several African countries, including Ethiopia and South Sudan, have asked for help from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with regards to creating new policies on safe migration through technical expertise. A spokesperson from IOM was quoted by Xinhuanet, stating that IOM will help “African countries sign bilateral labor agreements between the source and destination countries for labor in order to safeguard migrant rights”.

Ethiopia/Somalia: Ethiopia and Somalia on the list of African countries with the highest number of internally displaced people
Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show that Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo and Nigeria are the African countries with the highest amount of internally displaced people. The Conversation explains that “armed conflict and food insecurity” in Somalia and “intracommunal violence” in Ethiopia are the reasons why people flee the two countries. It is estimated that altogether 10 million people are internally displaced in African countries.


Europe: Interior ministers meet to discuss new migration policies
Interior ministers from Italy, Germany, France, Malta, and Finland met to consider new relocation and disembarkation policies to assist refugees and migrants trapped at sea. The five countries decided to accept and allocate people amongst them until October 8, hoping that other European Union member states will join in on the agreement. The new deal aspires to fulfil the request from Italy and France for a new relocation system in Europe.

United Kingdom: Eritrean diaspora in the UK revolts against Eritrean regime
On September 21, Eritreans in the UK and other places came together to say yiakl; enough is enough. The Yiakl movement calls for political reform in Eritrea. One Day Seyoum, an organization that works for the release of Eritrean prisoners of conscience, started the campaign #18stolenyears. The organization posts daily videos in which the actions of the Eritrean dictatorship and its gravity is explained and organizes protests against the Eritrean regime.

United Kingdom: Right-wing group guarding beaches to hold off migrants
Britain First, a far-right group, gathered on the United Kingdom’s shores to stop migrants from landing after crossing the English Channel. According to the leader of Britain First, Paul Golding, their aim is to “stop this insidious small-scale invasion of our country”, as well as to “defend our country from whatever invasion threatens it’’, reports InfoMigrants. Various anti-discrimination groups started a counter movement against the Britain First patrols and state that refugees are very welcome.

Opinion: EU should send signal of international solidarity
In The Parliament Magazine, Davis Miliband, the CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), argues that the EU should send a signal of responsibility-sharing regarding migrants and refugees. Miliband states that in 2018, 22,631 refugees have been resettled in the EU. According to the CEO, this number is low for the capacity and wealth of the region. He argues that the new European Parliament needs to prioritize to create a new EU-wide resettlement law and ensure that 250.000 refugees are resettled in the EU by 2025.

North Africa

Libya/Tunisia: New migration routes from Tunisia are more difficult to locate
More migrants and refugees are now crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe from Tunisia instead of Libya, often without being noticed, according to an Italian prosecutor. Crossing the ocean from Tunisia is shorter and more suitable for smaller boats. Migrant correspondent Alessandra Ziniti, told AFP that these crossings are facilitated by “powerful groups of Libyan and Central African traffickers”.

Libya: Migrant shot after refusing to go back to Libyan detention center
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) staff reports that a Sudenese migrant was shot by a Libyan guard upon return to Libya. The guard started shooting in the air when several people refused to return to the detention centers after being “intercepted from the coast”. One of these bullets hit a Sudanese man in the stomach. He died a few hours later despite receiving medical aid. This situation proves again that Libya is not safe and that migrants and refugees should not be sent back to that country, a spokesman of the UN Refugee Agency said.

Libya/US: Libya discussed during UN General Assembly
From September 24 till September 30, dozens of world leaders come together during the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. The situation in Libya was also on the agenda. The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who supports Khalifa Haftar in Libya, stated that we need to “prevent the intervention of external actors in Libya’s internal affairs”, in order to stop armed groups from taking control. The Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya, Sarraj, called Haftar a “war criminal” and stated he is not open for peace talks with the military officer.