News Highlights: “No tangible progress” in Eritrea, EU criticised for treatment of refugees, War in Ukraine to affect every country

In this week’s News Highlights: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea publishes new report; Child mortality in the the Horn on the rise; FAO and WFP call for immediate action to face drought and food shortage; Aid in Tigray remains limited; Ethiopian federal government reportedly ready to find a solution to the ongoing conflict; Commercial drivers accused of supplying good to TPLF by federal government; US welcomes delivery of humanitarian aid in Ethiopia; UN chief calls on all sudanese parties to start talks in “good faith”; “The Russian Company” gold implementation in Sudan; MSF criticises EU for treatment of refugees and migrants in Niger; UK embassy reopens in Tripoli; Human smugglers arrested in Spain; Sit-in in Morocco for the persons lost at sea; Securitised approach by the EU increases risk for refugees and migrants; Spain to push NATO to classify irregular migration as ‘hybrid threat’; Rwanda scheme meets legal challenge as refugees face despair in the UK; Sexual violence against women as military tactic in Ukraine; Consequences of war in Ukraine affect more and more countries, UN says.

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The greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights publishes new report
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea published his report on 7 June, in which he describes the human rights situation in Eritrea, including the consequences of the conflict in Tigray and the violations committed by Eritrean troops in Ethiopia. The report covers a period of approximately one year, from 29 April 2021 to 22 April 2022, during which “no tangible progress was made towards solving the ongoing human rights crisis in the country. In fact, the Special Rapporteur has observed a deterioration in the situation in a number of areas”, it wrote. The Special Rapporteur notes a continued involvement of the armed forces in “serious human rights and humanitarian law violations in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia”. Also referring to compulsory and indefinite military service, conditions of detention, the civic and democratic space, the report contains a series of recommendations, directly addressed to the Government, and stressing the urgency of the situation. 

Horn of Africa: Child mortality on the rise warns UNICEF
On 7 June, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Rania Dagash told a press conference in Geneva that an “explosion of child deaths” was imminent in the Horn of Africa if no action was taken now to address it. “I am here today to tell you plainly that, if the world does not widen its gaze from the war in Ukraine, and act immediately, an explosion of child deaths is about to happen in the Horn of Africa,” she said. The number of children suffering from the most severe form of malnutrition has reportedly increased by 15% in five months, leaving more than 1.7 million children in need of urgent treatment across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, she explained in her speech. She also warned about child mortality, which has tripled in the current 2022 period compared to the whole of 2021. She therefore calls on the international community to continue to provide funding and refers in particular to the G7 meeting in Germany in June.

Horn of Africa: Drought and food shortages, FAO and WFP call for immediate action
Drought continues to worsen in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia, affecting nearly a quarter of a million people in the country, according to United Nations agencies. While the lack of a fourth rainy season in the Horn of Africa is causing one of the worst droughts in 40 years, says Al Jazeera, this is compounded by the war in Ukraine, which is having a large impact on food prices and accessibility in the most rural areas. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have issued a report in which they both call for an urgent humanitarian response to avert a dramatic famine in 20 “hunger hotspots”. “We are in a race against time to help farmers in the most affected countries, including by rapidly increasing potential food production and boosting their resilience in the face of challenges” stated FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.

Ethiopia: Aid in Tigray remains limited by fuel shortages
In its humanitarian update on northern Ethiopia, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that although more aid is entering Tigray, “the fuel reserve in Tigray remains very limited, severely hindering humanitarian operations.” Dutch media Trouw reported on a priest in Wukro, Tigray, who emphasised that persons are dying daily due to the siege, and who expressed his anger at the inattention of the international community. Furthermore, he reported that Wukro had seen human rights abuses during the war. He said that one boy was “forced by Eritrean military to loot houses together with four other boys, and to take especially chickens and lambs. When the Eritrean military men had loaded everything, they shot the five boys.”

Ethiopia: Federal government reportedly ready to find a solution to the ongoing conflict
On Monday (6 June), the press secretary of the Ethiopian prime minister’s office, Billene Seyoum, said the government was committed to the mediation process to end the civil conflict under the auspices of the African Union (AU), The East African reported. The statement comes after AU special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, met with Tigrayan leaders and Ethiopian federal officials about the ongoing conflict in the north, The East African said.

Ethiopia: Federal government accuses commercial drivers of supplying goods to TPLF
Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen claimed on 4 June that commercial drivers of aid trucks were smuggling in banned goods transferred to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces. “The drivers of the commercial fleet are taking and allowed supply such as extra fuel with barrels, satellite phones and other materials” said Mitiku Kassa Gutile, commissioner of the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Agency, supporting the Deputy Prime Minister’s claim. He said preventive measures would be put in place to combat the fraud, VOA reported. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs declined to comment on the allegations when contacted by VOA. Afar sources reported that 20 trucks were stopped that were reportedly carrying such ‘extra fuel’, but which were also said to be carrying humanitarian aid. 

Ethiopia: US welcomes delivery of humanitarian aid
In a press release issued on 7 June, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that humanitarian aid had been delivered to Ethiopia, particularly to the Afar, Amhara, and Tigrayan regions, and expressed that such momentum should advance to talks about peace. 1100 trucks are reported to have reached these regions in the past seven days, carrying basic necessities, food, and health supplies, the statement said. “We [the United States] particularly appreciate the cooperation of the Government of Ethiopia, Afar regional authorities, and Tigrayan regional authorities to facilitate the delivery of this assistance, as well as the efforts of the United Nations agencies, international organisations, U.S. government partners, and humanitarian organisations across Ethiopia,” it says. The statement also calls for restoration of essential services. Such services remain mostly blocked in Tigray.

Sudan: UN chief calls on all parties to start talks in “good faith”
On 6 June, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on all parties to the conflict in Sudan to enter into discussions on the country’s future in “good faith”. Since October 2021 and the military coup, power sharing between civilian representatives and senior officers has been completely suspended, leading to waves of political demonstrations and then severe repression, reports UN News. According to UN figures, nearly 100 people were even killed during these demonstrations. “The Secretary-General condemns all calls for violence and reiterates the importance of a peaceful atmosphere for the talks to be successful,” wrote the statement issued by his Spokesperson. Meanwhile, the most recent report of a UN expert on human rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, was published. The report notes the undermining of the human rights situation in Sudan. It notes that “the pattern of human rights violations observed since the coup is extremely worrying, including the repeated use of excessive and lethal force by the joint security forces to disperse peaceful protests, widespread arbitrary arrests and detention without respect for due process, and sexual violence.

Sudan: “The Russian Company” gold implementation
Al-Ibediyya, a 320 km north region of the Sudanese capital, is home to what locals call “the Russian Company”, a highly guarded factory that turns ore into gold bars, says The New York Times. According to both company and Sudanese government records, the gold mine would be an outpost of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which has grown into a war machine in recent years. According to The New York Times, Wagner is “expanding aggressively” on the African continent, and in particular in Sudan, where it has obtained several mining concessions that produce a veritable flow of gold. The Kremlin’s gold reserve is said to be worth $130 billion, causing some US officials to fear that these resources could be used as an alternative to the international community’s economic sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Across the country, Wagner is also supporting Vladimir Putin’s Russia in the development of its military bases and its exploitation of various resources, writes The New York Times.

North Africa

Libya/Niger/EU: MSF criticises EU for treatment of refugees and migrants
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has accused the European Union of pushing policies that have made the desert route from Niger to Libya and Algeria very risky. “”Because of European Union initiatives designed to curb migration, this particular migration route has become increasingly dangerous,” stated MSF spokeswoman Marie von Manteuffel. MSF records that 2,000 refugees and migrants are pushed out of Libya and Algeria each month, and end up stranded in the desert. After that, they often hide in Agadez, Niger, out of fear of being sent back to their countries.

Libya: UK embassy reopens in Tripoli
On Sunday, June 5, Caroline Hurndall, the UK ambassador to Libya, announced the reopening of the embassy after an eight-year hiatus, amid political uncertainty and numerous armed clashes in Tripoli, reports The Libya Observer. “Although the Embassy is based in Tripoli, this is a demonstration of our commitment to the whole of Libya. I am proud that our work touches the lives of Libyans across the whole country […] If Libya is to fulfil her political and economic potential, Libya’s leaders must continue to implement the October Ceasefire Agreement, and work together to pursue compromise and cooperation. The people of Libya deserve this,” she said. Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, Libya’s prime minister, expressed his joy at the strengthening of relations between the two countries, writes The Libya Observer.

Morocco-Spain: Eight human smugglers arrested
On 6 June, eight alleged human smugglers were arrested in Las Palmas, Murcia, Cadiz and Vizcaya, according to Spanish authorities. The alleged smugglers were said to be responsible for the arrival of 204 Morrocans in Spain by small boats off the coast of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. According to Spanish authorities, “[t]hey charged 3,000 euros to each migrant, and the profits are estimated at 600,000 euros”.

Morocco: Sit-in for the persons lost at sea
On 8 June, the families of the Morrocans who disappeared in a shipwreck on 27 March organised a sit-in in front of Beni Mellal’s Court of Appeal, according to Yabiladi. The gathering, organised by the Monitoring Committee for the file of missing Moroccan migrants – Beni Mellal and regions section, aims to raise awareness on the situation of the relatives of migrants and refugees who disappeared. In a press release, the committee holds as “directly responsible” the system of visas and reinforced border controls, within the framework of “unfair policies imposed by Europe on the countries of the South and on young people, in violation of the principle of the right to free movement, as provided for in international human rights treaties”.


European Union: Securitised approach increases risk for refugees and migrants
The Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) published a study about the main protection risks facing refugees and migrants along key routes to the European Union. The study concludes that “a securitized approach—one that often criminalizes refugees and migrants—in combination with a lack of legal and safe avenues of mobility, leads to a shrinking protection space for people on the move along key migration routes to and through Europe.” The Central Mediterranean Route through Libya was most reported as dangerous. It is also the deadliest, states MMC. 

EU/Spain: Spain to push NATO to classify irregular migration as ‘hybrid threat’
Euractiv reports that Spain, hosting the upcoming NATO summit on 29 and 30 June, intends to push for the inclusion of ‘hybrid threats’ in the alliance’s strategic concept. Such hybrid threats include irregular migration. In an interview with Reuters, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares stated that “[t]errorism, cybersecurity, the political use of energy resources and of irregular migration all impinge on our sovereignty”. However, sources for Euractiv stated that even though Spain is drafting the strategic concept, other NATO members are unlikely to agree to the inclusion of migration, as it is too divisive. 

UK: Rwanda scheme meets legal challenge as refugees face despair
On 8 June, emergency proceedings against the plan to deport migrants and refugees to Rwanda were launched in the High Court, according to The Guardian. The legality of the plan is contested by a collective composed of trade unions and NGOs who asked the court for a judicial review of the plan. The deportation should start on 14 June, according to the Home Office. According to InfoMigrants, minors have been spotted among the people that should be deported. Some migrants and refugees currently in detention awaiting deportation have gone on hunger strike, with one of them claiming to have suicidal thoughts, reports Al Jazeera

Ukraine/UN: Sexual violence against women still used as military tactic
On Monday 6 June, Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, addressed the Security Council to say that allegations of sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine are becoming increasingly common. While the Council has passed several resolutions prohibiting the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, Pramila Patten laments the gap between the commitments of international law and the reality on the ground, says UN News. “Painfully, my visit [to Ukraine] cast into stark relief the gap that still exists between the aspiration of prevention expressed by this Council through the robust normative framework that has been established over the past decade, and the reality on the ground for the most vulnerable,” she said.


UN: Consequences of war in Ukraine affect more and more countries
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told a news conference on Wednesday that the war in Ukraine has created a severe cost-of-living crisis from which no country can escape. The press conference was held to launch the latest report on the impacts of the conflict on food security, energy and finance, which calls for immediate stabilisation of food prices and the establishment of social safety nets, reports UN News. “For those on the ground, every day brings new bloodshed and suffering.  And for people around the world, the war is threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake,” he told journalists. The UN estimates that 1.6 billion people in 94 countries are currently affected by at least one of the three dimensions of the conflict – food security, energy or finance. 

Disclaimer: All information in these highlights is presented as a fluid update report, as to the best knowledge and understanding of the authors at the moment of publication. EEPA does not claim that the information is correct but verifies to the best of its ability within the circumstances. Publication is weighed on the basis of interest to understand potential impacts of events (or perceptions of these) on the situation. Check all information against updates and other media. EEPA does not take responsibility for the use of the information or impact thereof. All information reported originates from third parties and the content of all reported and linked information remains the sole responsibility of these third parties. Report to any additional information and corrections.