News Highlights: Airstrikes in Khartoum and Nyala, Storm kills thousands in Libya, MEPs criticise Tunisia-EU migration deal

In this week’s News Highlights: More civilians killed in airstrikes on Nyala and Khartoum; Volker Perthes steps down; Burhan meets with President Afewerki; Burhan meets with SPLM-North leader; International experts warn of empty peace initiatives in Sudan; Reports of ENDF atrocities in Amhara region; Young man found dead after arrest by ENDF; Somaliland sends army troops to Laascaanood; Closure of Eritrean churches after clashes in the Tel Aviv Eritrean Festival; An estimated 10,000 victims and 100,000 missing people after Storm Daniel in Libya; Conflicts over EU’s migration deal with Tunisia; Lampedusa hits record number of arrivals; More European countries to implement “radical” migration strategies; and Emergency refugee response programme extended in Greece. 

Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan: More civilians killed in airstrikes on Nyala and Khartoum 
Airstrikes carried out by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) targeting the positions of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Nyala hit two markets and residential areas killing at least 40 civilians on Wednesday. Another 40 civilians have been killed in a drone attack in Khartoum. On Sunday morning at 7 am, a series of drone strikes in southern Khartoum hit among others a crowded market.  Medical staff and volunteers were “shocked and overwhelmed by the scale of horror that struck the city today”, stated Médecins Sans Frontières emergency coordinator Marie Burton. Heavy clashes broke out in North Darfur, El Fasher, over the weekend after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked a military facility. El Fasher’s South Hospital is treating civilians that suffer from blast and bullet wounds. The UN is investigating reports of 13 mass graves in El Geneina, West Darfur. UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths spoke with RSF commander Hemedti over the weekend in relation to the need to provide access to people in need in Sudan. 

Sudan: Volker Perthes steps down
Volker Perthes announced he is stepping down from his role as the UN Special envoy to Sudan. Perthes announced his resignation during the UN Security Council (UNSC) briefing on Wednesday. António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, accepted his resignation. Perthes has been proclaimed as persona non grata by the Sudanese government since June. Meanwhile, the Sudanese government issued another warning ahead of the Security Council meeting claiming that it will terminate the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, if Perthes would deliver the briefing to the UNSC. US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called the threats by the Sudanese government “unacceptable”. She further condemned atrocities carried out against civilians in Sudan and called on the international community to step up efforts in funding the humanitarian response plan. Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged warring sides to stop the conflict “before it is too late to pull Sudan back from disaster”, delivering his speech at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. 

Sudan/Eritrea: Burhan meets with President Afewerki
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan visited Eritrea on 11 September. He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Mufaddal, the head of the Sudanese intelligence service. The delegation discussed bilateral ties with Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki. Leaders of the Sudanese Democratic Bloc and other Sudanese parties also gathered in Asmara, Eritrea, to discuss the conflict, Eritrean media Tesfanews reported. Most of those that gathered are thought to have supported the October 2021 coup.

Sudan: Burhan meets with SPLM-North leader
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), reportedly met with Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, leader of the SPLM-North (SPLM-N) during his visit in Asmara, Eritrea, seeking an alliance of the SAF and SPLM-N forces to fight against RSF. This has been reportedly the second meeting between al-Burhan and al-Hilu who previously met the RSF chief in Juba, South Sudan. Al-Burhan continues with a series of state visits having travelled to Turkey on Wednesday. He held bilateral discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Meanwhile, the control of the RSF of the oil refinery in Bahri, north Khartoum, has resulted in scarcity of oil supplies and a surge of prices as the production decreased to 30% of its total capacity. 

Sudan: International experts warn of empty peace initiatives
Possibilities for peace in Sudan are absent in the current circumstances and the worst is yet to come, states Marina Peter, chair of the Sudan and South Sudan Forum. She warns that any hope for a sustainable peace must come through one platform for peacebuilding, which has to fully integrate Sudanese civil society from the beginning, no matter how long it may take. The international community can support through making space for Sudanese civil society to meet, discuss and make their voices heard; assist in local reconciliation and peace building efforts, and be patient in receiving and hosting refugees. The plurality of mediation initiatives on Sudan leads to ‘forum-shopping’ by Sudanese elite, which is divisive and counters peace building efforts, warns think tank European Council on Foreign Relations. 

Ethiopia/Amhara: Reports of ENDF atrocities in Amhara region 
Over 70 civilians were killed in the Amhara town of Majete on 3 September amidst the conflict between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and Fano militia, witnesses state. Witnesses state the ENDF took over the village and started door-to-door searches. The soldiers then rounded up the younger men in the village and shot them in the head. The ENDF is also accused of looting of cattle, food and property. ENDF is accusing the civilians of supporting the Fano militia. The continued tensions in Amhara are causing a shortage of goods and healthcare. The prices of goods have increased and residents remain cautious of the ENDF forces in towns, who have arrested a lot of young persons after taking over towns. Three journalists were arrested under the state of emergency in Ethiopia for publishing about the conflict in Amhara or the state of emergency, stated the Committee to Protect Journalists. A global network of more than 300 human rights organisations called on the Federal government of Ethiopia to immediately end internet blockage in the Amhara region and uphold the international human rights framework concerning freedom of expression. Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), urged for halting the use of weapons and called for the peaceful resolution of conflicts within Ethiopia. The speech was delivered at the occasion of the New Year celebrated according to the Ethiopian calendar on 12 September. 

Ethiopia/Oromia: Young man found dead after arrest by ENDF
Danga Dhina, a young man who was arrested by the Federal government forces in August, was found dead in Anfilloo district in West Oromia. Witnesses say that Danga was arrested together with 3 other young men by governmental forces on the basis of false accusations of belonging to a killing squat associated with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Whereabouts of the remaining 3 men are unknown. 

Somalia: Somaliland sends army troops to Laascaanood 
The Somaliland army has sent additional troops to the Oog district after SSC-Khatumo forces took over the town of Laascaanood last month. The army is preparing for an offensive on Laascaanood. Meanwhile, a drone strike on al-Shabaab in central Somalia killed five civilians, after al-Shabaab fighters hid in a house which also housed a family. 

Eritrea/Israel/Norway: Closure of Eritrean churches after clashes in the Tel Aviv Eritrean Festival 
Police in Tel Aviv ordered the temporary closure of four Eritrean churches over the weekend, citing concerns of further clashes between the Eritrean regime supporters and protesters. Meanwhile, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the clashes at the Eritrean festival in Bergen, Norway completely unacceptable. The festivals are dominated by Eritreans who support the regime, and those critical of the regime are banned from attending the festivals, states Norwegian Parliament member Ola Elvestuen. Two reports for Norwegian ministries describing the pressure and control of the Eritrean diaspora by the Eritrean regime in Norway were largely ignored, critics say. 

North Africa

Libya: An estimated 10,000 victims and 100,000 missing people after Storm Daniel
Storm Daniel has caused a large number of victims in Libya on Sunday, estimated at more than 10,000 by authorities with at least 100,000 more missing, reports InfoMigrants. A substantial part of people that are affected are expected to be migrants or internally displaced people (IDPs). InfoMigrants state that thousands of people are still missing, feared to be dead. Due to heavy rainfall and wind in Eastern coastal towns, the infrastructure has been considerably damaged. There is no power and communication lines do not work. Two dams broke off causing massive flooding and “sweeping away entire neighbourhoods”. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stated that at least 46,000 IDPs were in east Libya, where the floods took place. This caused more internal displacement for the already internally displaced people.  According to InfoMigrants, Derna was most affected. On 11 September a three day mourning period was declared. 


EU/Tunisia: Conflicts over EU’s migration deal with Tunisia
On Tuesday, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) criticised the EU’s migration agreement with Tunisia. Several MEPs stated that despite the deal signed in July,  there were more incoming migrants and refugees in Europe from Tunisia than before. Other MEPs blamed the European Commission for neglecting evidence that Tunisia’s authorities are abusive towards sub-Saharan migrants and causing “illegal pushbacks, racial hatred and human rights violations”, states Euronews. The European Commission defended the deal by saying that there have been more boats intercepted and rescued this year. A group of MEPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament was set to travel to Tunisia between 14 and 16 September, but they were denied entry. No reason was given. 

Italy: Lampedusa hits record number of arrivals
Lampedusa has hit a record number of new refugee and migrant arrivals, reports Reuters. The record of daily arrivals has increased from an approximate 63 to 80 in the last month. According to France24, there are about 7,000 migrants on the Lampedusa which officially has a maximum capacity of 700. According to Prefect Valeria Valenti, Italy’s Special Commissioner for the “Migrant Emergency”, arrivals have increased by 84% compared to 2022. Valenti has blamed the Dublin regulations, which state that Italy has to take back migrants who travelled further in the EU to process their asylum claims. InfoMigrants reports that boats are “queueing” to get on the island. At least 33 boats were waiting to arrive on the night of Monday to Tuesday (11-12 September) with 400 additional people arriving from Tunisia on Thursday (14 September). On 11 September, a boat from the Resqship organisation rescued 39 people. The people rescued reported that they had witnessed a shipwreck with around 40 people, but the second boat has not yet been found. Meanwhile, the Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi met with city mayors to consider issues in the management of the increased number of arrivals. In the discussion, municipal officials asked to better implement identification, health care checks, and inquiries about relatives in the country in the initial reception centres so that migrants can be “better distributed across the System of Hostin and Integration. 

Europe: More European countries to implement “radical” migration strategies
Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister has said that more European countries want to implement their more “radical” migration strategies to tackle irregular migration, similar to the British solutions. This includes the deal that Britain has made with Rwanda. He mentioned that both Austria, Denmark and Italy have been trying to find ways to implement stronger border measures. He said that “where Britain leads, others will follow”. 

Greece: Emergency refugee response programme extended
Migrants in Greece continue to have access to free public health care after the EU has extended the PHILOS (Emergency Health Response to Refugee Crisis) which was due to end this year but was extended until February 2024, reports InfoMigrants. This allows migrants to continue having access to health care and another 670 medical professions to retain their jobs. PHILOS offers psychological services as well as medical services. This extension is to allow for a transition to another program. A decrease in unaccompanied minors has also occurred in the last month. According to InfoMigrants 96 percent of unaccompanied minors are between the ages of 14-18 and live in semi-independent apartments.