Horn Highlights: UN and EU representatives’ cautious peace optimism, Refugees in Addis summoned to Embassy, EU seeks MS investment ahead of Summit

In this week’s Horn Highlights: Conference on AU-EU collaboration, with peace building as key precondition; Fears that stolen artefacts from Tigray are being sold online; Eritrean refugees summoned to Addis embassy; UN Deputy SG hopeful a peace agreement can be reached; map analysis of the conflict between June-December 2021; Tigrayan prisoners extorted by guards, witnesses say; WHO sends medical supplies to Tigray by air; OLF accusses government of torture of detainees; EU, US and others condemn Sudan for political arrests; former head Eritrean Orthodox church dies in detention; EU seeks more Member State investment for AU-EU collaboration; Blinken speaks to AU Commission Chairperson.

Brussels Event: Conference “Critical Issues for AU-EU Collaboration on Health and Science”
During next week’s African Union – European Union Summit, taking place in Brussels on 17 and 18 February, Research Advisors and Experts Europe (RAEE) is organising a side event on “Critical Issues for AU-EU Collaboration on Health and Science”. The speakers include Hon. Fortune Charumbira, acting President of the Pan-African Parliament. The meeting will discuss critical issues of health and science in EU-AU collaboration; including the precondition of peace building for collaboration. The hybrid event can be attended in person as well as online.

Greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia: Artefacts being sold online feared to be stolen Tigray artefacts
The Times writes that a surge in Ethiopian artefacts being sold online is raising suspicions about their origins. Many bibles and scrolls were looted at the beginning of the conflict in November 2020, when Eritrean and Ethiopian troops occupied Tigray. There have been many reports of widespread looting, including of heritage sites. The disappearance of artefacts is raising concern among experts that these are now being sold. Proving their origin is difficult, however. Many artefacts on eBay do not have information on provenance. According to Dr Hagos Abrha Abay, an expert interviewed by The Times, Sudan is one of the countries being used to smuggle many valuable goods to Europe and America. 

Ethiopia: Eritrean refugees summoned to the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa
Eritrean refugees who reside in Addis Ababa have been summoned to the Eritrean Embassy in Addis Ababa and have been asked extensive details about their life and activities since fleeing Eritrea, notes a witness. The refugees were asked what they had told the UN Refugee Agency about the Eritrean government. The witness noted that fear had driven them to go, as the summons warned them not to be late. Once there, the refugees realised the Eritrean embassy had collected detailed information about them.

Ethiopia: UN Deputy SG hopeful an agreement can be reached
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, the highest ranking United Nations (UN) official to have visited Ethiopia since the start of the war in November 2020, said that she is hopeful that an agreement can be found between the warring parties in Ethiopia. She says that both sides are trying harder to find a compromise. During a five-day visit which ended on 9 February, she met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Tigrayan leaders, as well as local leaders. She added that while both sides did not exclude African Union or UN mediation, they wanted to find an Ethiopian solution first and foremost. She also added: “heartbreaking for me was to see the social fabric of a part of that country so torn.” She was particularly shaken by the horrific accounts of rape. Annette Weber, the EU envoy to the Horn, shared similar observations. On 11 February, following a visit to Ethiopia, she said that there were significant improvements taking place, including a reduction in hate speech, releasing of prisoners, and more frequent approval of humanitarian visas. She however also warns that the current fragmentation in Ethiopia will potentially make reaching a peaceful settlement more difficult. 

Ethiopia: Analysis of the conflict from June – December 2021 through maps
An article by Ermias Teka aims to document the military advance by the Tigray forces and its allies between June – December 2021. Through the use of maps, the chapter looks at the main operations and movements in this time period. The  chapter is part of the report The Tigray War & Regional Implications Volume 2, which will be published on Tuesday 15 February.

Ethiopia: Security officers accused of extortion of Tigrayans
An investigation by Al Jazeera revealed that Tigrayan prisoners have been systematically extorted by Ethiopian officials and security personnel. Thousands of individuals have been arrested without charge since the conflict began. According to interviews conducted by Al Jazeera, prison wardens, guards, as well as government prosecutors and attorneys set ransoms for prisoners to be released. According to detainees Al Jazeera spoke to, payments are also necessary to get medecin, and sometimes to access the toilets. One person said prison officials demanded 50$ for cleaning and drinking water. Another said that 1.200$ had to be paid to secure the release of a 17 year old. Sometimes payments go as high as 10.000$. While the government says that it is taking action against corrupt officials, Al Jazeera says people are telling them it is rather getting worse. 

Ethiopia: WHO has sent critical medical supplies to Tigray, but no fuel for humanitarian operations
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has started sending essential medicines, medical supplies and equipment to the Tigay region through United Nations (UN) flights since Friday 11 February. The first round of 11 metric tons of medical aid has been delivered to the regional capital, Mekelle. The WHO expects to ship 33.5 tonnes of supplies in medical aid in the days following the first shipment. Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warns in its latest updates that still no fuel is coming into Tigray, completely stalling humanitarian operations. No fuel has been allowed in six months, besides two World Food Programme trucks in November 2021. An expert is warning that according to field observations by the Mekelle University in Tigray, harvest being gathered now will only yield between 25% and 50% of the normal quantity. As the main routes for aid remain blocked, this may lead to an extreme crisis. Most of the access routes to Tigray remain blocked by either Eritrea or Ethiopia. Of the 11 main access roads, only one is occasionally open for supplies. However, many checkpoints hinder passage. 

Ethiopia: OLF calls for an end to mistreatment of detained members
The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), is accusing the Ethiopian government of torturing its imprisoned members. According to the OLF, they have been held in bad conditions, including solitary confinement. According to the Addis Standard, the statement also mentions three journalists who have been denied food over the last few days. The journalists are associated with the Oromo News Network, an OLF-affiliated news network.

Sudan: EU, US and others condemn arrests in Sudan
The EU, US, UK, Norway, Canada, and Switzerland, have raised concerns about the arrest of several high-ranking Sudanese political figures on 9 February 2022. In a statement they denounce the “recent pattern of arrests and detentions of civil society activists, journalists, and humanitarian workers occurring throughout Sudan”. They further call for the release of the individuals. 

Eritrea: Abune Antonios passes away in detention
The former leader of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, has passed away on 9 February 2022 at age 94  while under house arrest. He was stripped of his position in 2006 and detained in 2007 for refusing to excommunicate 3000 political opponents of the regime, and calling for the release of prisoners. 


EU-AU: EU needs more member state funding for investment plan
Ahead of the African Union – European Union Summit on Thursday and Friday this week, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Development, Jutta Urpilainen, has said that more money is required as an answer to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The European Commission wants to mobilise 300 euros billion in funding for EU-Africa investment for this purpose. However, funding by national governments is needed in addition to EU funds to reach that target, states Urpilainen. Urpilainen added that “[i]n order to really have a ‘Team Europe’ initiative, we need to have coordination, but we also need to get financial contributions from the member states.” The head of international partnership department in the Commission, Koen Doens, said that of each year 13.6 billion euros of the funding for Africa comes from member states, while 6.4 billion euros comes from EU funds.  A list of around 150  joint priorities has been established. Diplomats told Devex that a host of reasons, including experience, pre-existing member state presence, and “state of readiness of the plans” affected member states support for the varying projects. 

Africa: US secretary of State speaks to AU Chairperson
The US secretary of state spoke with African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki on 8 February 2021. According to a statement by the US state department, they spoke about “possible ways forward on political and security matters in Africa, including Sudan, Mali, and Burkina Faso and the need to bolster democracy on the continent”. The Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, were not mentioned in the brief published statement.

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