News Highlights: Fuel shortage in Ethiopia, Young refugee commits suicide in Libya, UK aims to GPS-track refugees

In this week’s News Highlights: Civilians killed in Oromia, 13 million people in need of food aid in Ethiopia amidst fuel shortage; Ethiopia dismisses fuel shortage as ‘myth’ despite warnings of international organisations about the lack; Attacks in West Darfur displaced thousands in several months; Young refugee commits suicide in Libya detention centre; MSF calls for safe legal ways out of Libya; Mass arrests in Morocco; UK aims to track refugees and migrants with GPS; EU Development Days; EC wants to limit migration to Cyprus; G7 leaders called to address world food crisis; and UNHCR estimates 2 million refugees need to be resettled next year.

Click here to subscribe to daily Situation Reports on the Horn of Africa.

The greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia: Between 200 and 360 civilians killed in Oromia
On Saturday 18 June, a rights group and local officials in the Oromia region claimed that at least 200 civilians, most of whom are believed to belong to the Amhara ethnic group, have been killed by Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) forces. Some witnesses estimate the number of victims between 260 and 320, according to The Guardian. The attack was reportedly carried out in the town of Gimbi, in a clash between government forces and the OLA, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported to CNN. The OLA denied the accusations, saying that Abiy Ahmed’s government “is again blaming the OLA for atrocities committed by its own retreating fighters”. 

Ethiopia: 13 million people in need of food according to WFP
On 23 June, the World Food Programme issued an update on the situation in Ethiopia, including conflict and drought, which leaves more than 13 million people in need of food aid, the UN agency estimates. Although WFP has managed to deliver more than 100,000 metric tons of food since April 1, fuel is running out and deliveries are becoming less regular, they write. In addition, the drought and conflict have caused inflation to skyrocket, with the country’s food price index up 43 percent from June 2021, with items such as vegetable oil up more than 89 percent year-over-year, according to WFP. WFP is therefore warning of a serious malnutrition crisis, caused by a lack of funding for its operations. 

Ethiopia: Government denounces ‘myth’ of fuel shortage as fabricated by TPLF
Ethiopia’s federal government on Thursday called the fuel shortage in Tigray a “myth” and accused Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of seeking to launch a new offensive against the government, says The East African. Humanitarian agencies have effectively said that a fuel shortage is crippling the distribution of emergency humanitarian aid, causing a complete lack of access to basic services for the people of Tigray. The European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, visited Mekelle, and on Tuesday called on the government to lift restrictions on supplies to Tigray, says The East African. “The myth of fuel shortage is a hidden agenda for TPLF to enhance mobility of its army in preparation for another round of conflict,” the government responded.

Sudan: Attacks on civilians cause forced displacement of thousands
Since April 2022, attacks on civilians by armed assailants have caused the displacement of thousands of people, and the death of hundreds more, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on 22 June. These large-scale attacks have taken place in Kerenik and Kulbus, among others, and this “underscores the Sudanese government’s failure to fulfil its duty to protect civilians and the urgent need for ramped-up United Nations monitoring, protection through its presence,” HRW wrote. The United Nations said the latest attack on civilians in West Darfur between 6 and 11 June left at least 125 dead, 100 injured and about 33,000 displaced. 

North Africa

Libya: Young refugee’s suicide in detention centre highlights abusive living conditions
On 23 June, Al Jazeera broadcasted a photo of the lifeless body of a 19-year-old refugee who hanged himself in one of the rooms of the Ain Zara detention centre in Libya, stating the photo is evidence of the human cost of abuse in detention centres in Libya. Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Aziz was from Darfur, Sudan, and reportedly committed suicide on 5 June after two arrests within two weeks, according to Al Jazeera. Asylum seekers who were also locked up in the centre told Al Jazeera that the young man’s body had been left for hours in the room where he lived with hundreds of other people. One of the witnesses explained that the “people trapped in the detention centre are growing increasingly desperate as they see little or no hope for the future”, Al Jazeera reported.

Libya: MSF calls on European and North America to evacuate migrants and refugees
On 20 June, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) published a new report on Libya and called on Europea and North America for an immediate acceleration of the evacuation of migrants and refugees trapped in Libya. MSF describes the very limited legal pathways to safe countries as “slow and restrictive”. Of the 600,000 migrants and refugees living in Libya at the moment, less than 5,000 left the country through legal procedures of the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or the International Organization for Migration (IOM). MSF operations manager for Libya Claudia Lodesani said “We believe that safe countries, especially in the EU – which has been funding the Libyan coastguard for years and encouraging the forced return of migrants to Libya – have a duty to facilitate the evacuation of these victims of violence and to protect them on their own soil”. MSF states that since the beginning of its action in Libya in 2016, it has been unable to ensure the continuity of medical care for the most severe cases, including victims of torture, both inside and outside detention camps.

Morocco: Migrants and refugees are trying to hide from mass arrests
Since 17 June, mass arrests of migrants and refugees are taking place in Laâyoune, Morocco, according to multiple testimonies and images gathered by France 24. Migrants and refugees are trying to hide, and the ones who are caught are sent to unsanitary detention centres and then to different places, like the desert at the Algerian border. According to member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) Hassan Amari, the arrests are illegal “because the police burst into homes without having a court decision”. Laâyoune is a known departure point for migrants and refugees trying to reach the Canary Islands in Spain, according to France 24


UK: Home Office is applying GPS trackers on migrants and refugees
On 20 June, The Home Office launched a new plan to tag some migrants and refugees with GPS trackers to better monitor them, according to The Washington Post. Home Office states that the GPS device will help to “maintain regular contact” and “more effectively progress their claims”. Head of the Refugee Council Enver Salomon described the plan as  a “draconian and punitive approach”, and refugee advocates described it as a way to treat vulnerable people like criminals. Among the migrants and refugees that could be tagged are the people who were supposed to be sent to Rwanda with the inaugural flight of the Rwanda plan which was cancelled on 14 June.

EU: European Development Days
The European Development Days took place on 21 and 22 June this week in Brussels. The event gathers EU organisations and partners on development. Key focus of the EDDs was Europe’s Global Gateway investment programme on infrastructure. However, sessions in the EDDs also highlighted key challenges for development, including the ongoing conflict and humanitarian issues in Ethiopia. Among others, Dr. Amanuel Haile from Ayder hospital told participants in a video message that the lack of fuel and other supplies continues to make the Ayder hospital and many other health facilities in Tigray almost non-functional. 

EU/Cyprus: European Commission wants to limit migration to Cyprus

On 18 June, vice president of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas called on the Turkish government and the Turkish Chypriot government (North Cyprus) to stop migrants from reaching Cyprus. The number of asylum seekers reaching the Republic of Cyprus (South Cyprus) is increasing, and most of them come by passing North Cyprus, according to DW. “They [the Turkish-Cypriot government] must also assume their share of responsibility and we’ll find a way to remind them,” said Schinas. Schinas also said that European authorities were going to help Cypriot authorities to limitate the passage of migrants and refugees between the North and the South of the island.


G7: WFP calls on G7 to act to prevent starvation
The G7 leaders will meet starting this weekend in Germany, and the World Food Programme (WFP) has called on the leaders to urgently address the food crisis. “Up to 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of famine,” states WFP. NGO Christian Aid asked the G7 to particularly focus on the humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa, which it states is too late to avert. However, the NGO states it is not too late for the G7 to act decisively to save lives.

UNHCR: 2 million refugees will need resettlement in 2023
On 21 June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released its global resettlement needs assessment for 2023, stating that more than 2 million refugees will need to be resettled next year. This figure would represent a significant increase of 36% over the previous one, which UNHCR attributes to the humanitarian impacts of the pandemic, crises such as the Syrian conflict, the situation in Afghanistan, and many others. As a result of this assessment, UNHCR urges States to make resettlement commitments with flexible quotas that take into account urgent needs around the world. 

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.