News Highlights: Eritrean refugees in Addis forcibly moved and called to register, SSA in Libya tortures returned refugees, Forced returns by Greece

In this week’s News Highlights: Refugees International concerned about forced movement of Eritrean refugees; Eritrean refugees in Addis Ababa called to register themselves; Amnesty urges Ethiopian authorities to investigate massacre of 400 Amhara civilians; TPLF, federal government negotiating teams at odds; CPJ urges Tigray authorities to release journalists; Researchers describe why thousands of Ethiopians flee; US Embassy charge d’affaires says goodbye to the Eritrean people with strong message; 18 million people food insecure in the Horn; Sudanese army fuels tribal tensions, say pro-democracy groups; EU reiterates support to Khartoum for democratic transition; Niger/EU partnership based on border security only, say human rights groups; Libyan militia intercepting boats are taking refugees and migrants to be tortured; Mediterranean crossings becoming more frequent and more deadly; Turkey reiterates accusation of illegal pushbacks by Greece; 3,000 migrants and refugees found in Serbian border camps; African leaders to meet with US to discuss food and climate issues in December.

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

The greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia: Refugees International concerned about forced movement of Eritrean refugees
Refugees International, the global advocacy organisation for displaced people, said it was “deeply concerned about media reports that the Ethiopian government has rounded up more than 100 Eritrean refugees in and around Addis Ababa and forcibly moved them to the refugee camps near the unstable Amhara-Tigray border”. Abdullahi Halakhe, Refugees International’s Senior Advocate for East and Southern Africa, said in a statement that the area where the Eritrean refugees are moved to puts their lives at stake, explaining that they are often targeted by various perpetrators, through attacks, abductions and discrimination. Abdullahi Halakhe urges all actors to respect international law and stop the forced displacement of refugees.

Ethiopia: Eritrean refugees in Addis Ababa receive concerning call to register
Eritrean refugees in Addis Ababa received notice that they are to register at local authorities between 18 July and 1 August 2022. Refugees are concerned about the registrations, but are equally concerned about what may happen if they do not register themselves. Videos from refugees in Addis Ababa show long lines in front of the public administration offices. In addition, reports state that some Eritrean refugees are rounded up and sent to prison or to unsafe camps in the Amhara Region, or are being asked 3 USD and above for every day they spent in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia: Amnesty urges authorities to investigate massacre of 400 Amhara civilians in June
Amnesty International is urging the Ethiopian authorities to investigate impartially the massacre of 400 Amhara civilians in Tole Kebele, Oromia region, on 18 June. According to 10 testimonies of survivors and relatives of the victims collected by Amnesty, the killings, described as “summary”, were allegedly committed by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). They also describe looting and burning, the latter confirmed by analysis of satellite images by Crisis Evidence Lab. Witnesses report that allegedly, OLA forces surrounded the villages, before signalling the start of the attack with a gunshot, and then massacring most of the women and children who had remained in the village while many adults had already left their homes for work. “These horrific killings in Tole, allegedly at the hands of the Oromo Liberation Army, reveal its perpetrators’ utter disregard for human life,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

Ethiopia: TPLF, government negotiating teams at odds
Tigray’s representative for external affairs, Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot, told Sudan Tribune that Tigray will soon appoint a team of negotiators for peace talks with the government. Meanwhile, a seven-member peace committee set up by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that it has started to work. The two respective teams have begun working on their own, reflecting on their internal functioning and the code of conduct for the talks, says the Sudan Tribune. However, no details were given about the possible face-to-face meeting between the respective leaders. Some tensions are already emerging over the mediation team, as while Addis Ababa wants an African Union leadership, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is questioning its neutrality and would like the leadership of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. These differences have delayed the start of the talks, says the Sudan Tribune, as they were scheduled to begin at the end of June.

Ethiopia: CPJ urges Tigray authorities to release journalists detained for their work
The Committee to Protect Journalists urges the regional authorities in the Tigray region to release five journalists from Tigrai TV and all other members of the press who have been detained. According to media reports and other witnesses, the authorities have been detaining journalists for the past few months in Mekelle, allegedly for their work with the federal government. “Journalists operating in Tigray should be allowed to live and work freely, without fear that they will be targeted in politically motivated cases,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. Mekele prosecutor Addis Gebresilassie was quoted in the media saying that the five were held for ‘another crime’, but no further details were specified.

Ethiopia: Fleeing the country in secret, to find freedom
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians have been fleeing their country, often as secretly as possible to avoid the attention of the authorities, report researchers Lauren Carruth and Lahra Smith for the Washington Post. In their flight, many will face other dangers, such as armed conflict in Yemen, drowning, dehydration, human trafficking and detention. Through their ethnographic research, Smith and Carruth described the reasons for the persons fleeing. Ethiopian women described that they are more exposed to medical insecurity and political repression than men, for example. Living conditions in the Horn of Africa region’s refugee camps are also miserable and offer few prospects for resettlement, they explain. Ultimately, migration is a way to escape and sometimes even to emancipate oneself and to flee all forms of violence, they conclude.

Eritrea: U.S. Embassy charge d’affaires says goodbye to the people with strong message
Steven C. Walker, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea, since December 2019 sent a farewell message laced with criticism to the Eritrean government on July 16. He thanked the people of Eritrea, praising them for their courage in the face of the current conditions and their unwavering hope, while also stating that he hoped the government would urgently implement political and economic changes. “I share your hope and urge the government to implement the political and economic reforms that would unleash the magnificent potential that exists here”, he said. “I want to tell each of you, whether you live here in Eritrea or abroad, that despite the false narratives constructed and disseminated to deny your lived reality, I and many, many others around the world know the truth of your suffering, your courage, and your quiet dignity. We acknowledge your sacrifice and struggle,” Walker stated.

Horn of Africa: 18 million people food insecure according to the Mixed Migration Center
The Mixed Migration Center (MMC) has published its quarterly update on Eastern and Southern Africa, which focuses in particular on forced population displacement due to weather or conflict. Among its key updates, the MMC counts 18 million people facing food insecurity and lack of access to clean water in the Horn of Africa. They also count 2.6 million people forcibly displaced by the conflict in Tigray since November 2020. 

Sudan: Army fuels tribal tensions, say pro-democracy groups
Tensions have been rising in Sudan since tribal clashes broke out in the Blue Nile region on 14 July, mainly over territorial disputes, reports the Sudan Tribune. Pro-democracy demonstrators returned to the streets of Khartoum on 17 July to protest against the army, denouncing its failure to protect civilians in the tribal violence and claiming that they are fuelling tensions. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, the clashes have so far left 105 people dead and 291 injured. The rapid spread of violence across the region had forced the SPLM-N governor of the area to impose a night-time curfew, The Sudan Tribune adds. 

Sudan/EU: EU reiterates support for democratic transition
A delegation of European Union (EU) diplomats led by the EU representative in Sudan travelled to Khartoum to meet with the undersecretary of the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reports The Sudan Tribune. The discussion was conducted on the EU’s intent to support Sudan in the process of democratic transition and peaceful political dialogue initiated by the tripartite mechanism. The EU made it clear, however, that its economic support will be provided only once the civilian-run transition is restored, reports The Sudan Tribune. “We affirmed our full support for the return to the democratic transition process, and we seek to support the Sudanese people,” stressed the EU official.

North Africa

Niger/EU: Partnership based on border security only, say human rights groups
The European Union (EU) and Niger are strengthening their cooperation through a partnership to combat migrant smuggling affecting Niger, which is located at the crossroads of migratory flows to North and West Africa, and to the EU. The cooperation is accompanied by an agreement between the European border protection agency Frontex and Niger, to support the authorities in managing its borders and fighting cross-border crime, the European Commission writes. Human rights groups denounce the agreement’s sole focus on border protection instead of developing legal channels and focusing on protection. “This partnership uses the rhetoric to help saving lives and prevent migrants from becoming victims of violence and exploitation but only focuses on boosting border security,” said Eva Baluganti, a researcher at EuroMed.

Libya: Militia intercepting boats are taking refugees and migrants to be tortured
Associated Press writes about a Libyan force, Stabilization Support Authority (SSA), that intercepts boats on the Mediterranean Sea and returns the occupants to Libya to be detained and tortured, to be ransomed. The SSA is a collection of Libyan militia. AP describes that the SSA is now rivalling the official Libyan coast guard and navy in the task to intercept and return migrants, supported by the EU. However, SSA is not under EU or UN scrutiny. SSA is led by Abdel-Ghani al-Kikli, also known as “Gheniwa”, who is accused of war crimes and other abuses by human rights organisations. AP reports that SSA is still funded by the government in Tripoli. A former head of the Libyan coast guard also told AP that SSA is indirectly drawing from money that the EU is giving to support the interception of refugees and migrants.

Tunisia: Mediterranean crossings becoming more frequent and more deadly
CNN writes that the number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea, especially from Tunisia, is on the increase since 2021. In addition, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warns that the journeys are becoming deadlier. People in Tunisia pay about 2000 USD for a place on a boat to Italy, states CNN. Persons are fleeing the desperate economic situation in the country. CNN outlines the situation of some of the Tunisians, but also other migrants and refugees, who use the country as a departure point.


Greece/Turkey: Turkey reiterates accusation of illegal pushbacks by Greece
On 17 July, the Turkish Ministry of Defence issued a statement claiming to have filmed illegal pushbacks by the Greek authorities, and thus a “territorial water violation” between the Turkish coasts and the Greek island of Samos. A Turkish drone reportedly flew over the sea, about 1.5 km from the Turkish coast, filming a Greek coastguard boat pushing back two life rafts with migrants and refugees on board, reports InfoMigrants. On several occasions, Turkish authorities, but also NGOs operating in the area, have accused the Greek authorities of illegal and dangerous migrants and refugees pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, adds InfoMigrants. The Greek authorities have not yet responded to the accusations, but two days before the incident, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis accused Turkey of “instrumentalizing migration.” 

Serbia/Hungary: 3,000 migrants and refugees found in border camps
Serbia’s interior ministry said that around 3,000 migrants were found by police in two irregular migrant camps near the Hungarian border. The migrants and refugees are believed to be mainly from India, Pakistan and Syria, SchengenVisa news reported, and have been transferred to an accommodation centre in the area. The Hungarian authorities, for their part, have limited the daily admissions of migrants and refugees to 30, causing hundreds of them to be blocked in the transit zone between Hungary and Serbia. Thousands of migrants and refugees take the “Balkan route” to reach EU countries, and therefore settle temporarily in Serbia, Hungary or even Croatia, reports InfoMigrants


Africa/USA: African leaders to meet with US to discuss food and climate issues in December
The United States will bring together all the leaders of the African continent at a summit in Washington DC from 13 to 15 December 2022, President Joe Biden announced. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the urgent challenges of food security and the impacts of climate change. “The summit will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities,” Biden said in a statement. This will be President Biden’s first visit to the African continent since taking office. He said the leaders’ meeting will aim to establish a new economic commitment by addressing the current challenges of food insecurity and poor weather conditions, as well as the impact of the pandemic on the continent. 

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.