Horn Highlights: Armed men attack a refugee camp killing five, GERD dam starts producing electricity, AU-EU call for a joint 2030 vision

In this week’s Horn Highlights: Joint AU-EU statement emerges from Summit; Eritrean refugees killed in Afar, says UN; Investigation shows Facebook continues to fail to take action on posts inciting ethnic violence in Ethiopia; GERD starts to produce electricity; Last UN staff freed in Ethiopia; CPJ says journalist about to be charged despite lifting of emergency state; New 243-page report about Ethiopia conflict; Ethiopian government will not delist TPLF as terror organisation, states spokesperson; Health in Tigray critical, hospital warns; National dialogue commissioners appointed; Eritrean opposition indicates Eritrean troops being moved; Hospital patient killed in Sudan by stray bullet.

AU-EU Summit: Joint statement calls for a joint vision for 2030
In a joint press statement released following the African Union – European Union Summit of 17 and 18 February,  the AU and EU shared a joint vision which aims to be a “driving force in promoting our common priorities, shared values, international law, and preserving together our interests and common public goods.” On peace building, the outcome was centred on “African solutions for African problems”, and did not address any specifics in detail. They declared the intent to consolidate and renew cooperation on security, climate, vaccines, and economic development among other priorities. On vaccines, no breakthrough was reached on the temporary waving of patents, disappointing many critics. Increased cooperation is meant to be achieved through investments, increased scientific cooperation, a joint agenda, and the expansion of existing programmes, according to the statement. Among the specific measures announced was the announcement of an EU investment package of “at least EUR 150 billion” for 2030 and AU Agenda 2063. The statement also discusses an “expanded Erasmus+ programme and develop[ing of] partnerships between universities” to facilitate exchanges and promote movement between both continents. Increased cooperation in the fields of migration and security were also announced. 

Greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia: Eritrean refugees killed in Afar region
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stated that five Eritrean refugees were killed after gunmen attacked a refugee camp in the Ethiopian region of Afar on 3 February 2022. Fighting has been taking place in the area between Ethiopian-aligned forces and Tigrayan forces. The identity of the attackers has not been revealed. Witnesses told UNHCR that the gunmen who attacked the camp also kidnapped women, looted property and set fire to the camp. The UNHCR has condemned the attack and has reported that thousands of Eritreans were fleeing the violence. 4000 of them were reported arriving in Semera. UNHCR said that it was working with Ethiopia to provide emergency aid to those in need. 

Ethiopia: Facebook allows incitement of ethnic violence
An investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) has found that the platform still allows users to post misinformation and hate speech in Ethiopia. These posts include some that call for violence against certain ethnic groups. The TBIJ investigation found that some of these posts were not removed by Facebook, and were up for months. Facebook has known about these problems since at least 2019, when an internal report warned of the situation in Ethiopia. An internal Facebook document in 2020 marked the situation in Ethiopia as “dire”. This is the worst classification Facebook has. Many of these internal documents were revealed in 2021 following a whistleblower leak. Facebook has done little since then to curb the problem of hate-inciting posts in Ethiopia, according to TBIJ. TBIJ found that Facebook continues to ignore requests from fact checkers to help curb misinformation and hate speech on the platform. One senior media worker told TBIJ that “As far as I know, support for fact checkers in Ethiopia by Facebook is almost non-existent”. 

Ethiopia: GERD starts production of electricity
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed inaugurated the start of electricity production of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Sunday 20 February. The dam, which has cost millions of dollars to build and is located on the Blue Nile, has been the source of significant tensions between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. Ethiopia maintains that the dam is key to its development, and that it does not wish to harm the interests of its neighbours. Both Egypt and Sudan are however concerned about the repercussions for their own water supply. The Egyptian foreign ministry has protested and said that it is a violation of a 2015 agreement between the three countries. All three countries have been in negotiations since 2012, however no agreement has been reached.

Ethiopia: Three UN staff members freed
The United Nations (UN) has announced on Friday that the last three UN staff members that were detained in Ethiopia on 9 November 2021 have been released by the Ethiopian government. According to UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, the UN was never informed about the reason why the staff members were arrested, although an Ethiopian government spokesperson accused them of participating in terrorism activities. 

Ethiopia: CPJ of says 3 journalists investigated and charged
The Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) says that despite the Ethiopian government lifting the state of national emergency, three more journalists will be charged or are being investigated by the government under anti-terrorism laws. The new cases were launched against Amir Aman Kiyaro (freelance contributor to AP) and Thomas Engida (camera operator), and a third journalist, Temerat Negara, is being held longer pending investigation. Amir and Thomas have been accused of breaking the law by interviewing the Oromo Liberation Army, which has been declared a terrorist group. The CPJ said that the Ethiopian government should end its practices of punitive detentions of journalists and unconditionally release the journalists. The journalists have been detained since November and December 2021. 

Ethiopia: New extensive report published about the Ethiopian conflict
A new report by Eritrea Focus and Oslo Analytica has been published about the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. The 243-page report includes an overview of the conflict, humanitarian situation, and committed atrocities and international activities to end the war. The report also includes several detailed maps of the conflict. It is the follow up of a first report that detailed the conflict and its regional implications. The first part was published in July 2021.

Ethiopia: Government will not negotiate and delist TPLF as terrorist group
Addis Standard reports that the Ethiopian Ministry of Foregin Affairs (MoFA) told local media on the 17 Feburary that the government does not have any plan to remove the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) from the terrorist group desgination. During his press briefing, the MoFA spokesperson, Ambassador Dina Mufti, mentioned that there were mounting pressures from various bodies and the international community asking for the TPLF to be delisted. Ambassador Dina added that “[t]he planned national dialogue is not a negotiation and the Ethiopian government does not have any agenda to negotiate with a designated terrorist group, including TPLF.” Last week, Annette Weber, EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, stated that there were discussions and a possibility for delisting the TPLF, which would help negotiations towards peace. 

Ethiopia: Health situation in Tigray critical
The Chief Executive Director of Ayder C.S. Hospital in Tigray is saying that the health situation in Tigray is deteriorating rapidly. The Hospital has not received funding in seven months, and medical staff have not been paid in eight months. Medical supplies are not reaching the hospital, and as a result, staff are having to reuse gloves, clothes, and use out of date medication. The Tigray Bureau of Health is reporting that thousands are dying due to preventable diseases and malnutrition. They also report that most health facilities remain fully (77%) or partially (13%) disabled. The Bureau also reported that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. 

Ethiopia: National Dialogue Commissioners approved
Addis Standard reports that the 11 commissioners of the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission have been selected and approved. Opposition parties have argued that the selection process is lacking transparency and inclusivity. Addis Standard has published all 11 names.

Eritrea: Indications that Eritrean troops are being moved
Eritrean opposition group Yiakl posted on Facebook that it has received indications that newly trained Eritrean troops that have been in Sawa military camp for the last year are being sent to Massawa port, possibly in preparation to be shipped to Afar through Assab. The reports have not yet been confirmed. 

Sudan: Patient killed by stray bullet in hospitalThe Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors said that on Sunday a patient in hospital in the Sudanese city of Bahri was killed by a stray bullet as he went out onto a balcony. It is the 82nd person to be killed in protests since the coup in Sudan on 25 October 2021. Protestors were again on the streets on Sunday, reaching within 500 metres of the presidential palace. Security forces deployed tear gas and water cannons. According to Reuters gunfire was also reported. Protests took place in numerous other cities. 

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