News Highlights: Ongoing rights violations in Ethiopia, Suspension of food aid to Somalia, EU suspected of breaking international aid rules. 

In this week’s News Highlights: Hemedti and al-Burhan claim to create separate governments; Meetings take place in support of response plans for Sudan; Clashes break out between the SAF and Beja tribe in Port Sudan; Ongoing fighting causes further destruction in Sudan; Humanitarian situation in Sudan worsens due to disease outbreak and fighting; Ongoing human rights violations in Ethiopia raises concern; Food and aid diversion in Somalia causes EU to temporarily suspend funding for WFP; Aftermath after devastating floods in Derma; Trial of alleged Eritrean human trafficker, Tewolde Goitom – Walid continues; Clashes at Eritrean festivals continue in Switzerland and Germany; EU is in danger of breaking international aid rules states Oxfam; 10 Point Plan to address migration after thousands of arrivals in Lampedusa; Letter raising concerns about EU deal with Tunisia; Pope to visit Marseille and advocate for acceptance of migrants. 

Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan: Hemedti and al-Burhan claim to create separate governments
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hemedti), chief of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has suggested that he will form a government in the areas controlled by the RSF with a centrum in Khartoum, when his rival, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, head of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), will form a cabinet in Port Sudan,  reports Sudan Tribune. The vice-president of the Sudanese Sovereign council, Malik Agar, said in a response to Hemedti’s announcement that Al-Burhan will announce the new cabinet formation after his trip to New York where he is expected to deliver a speech at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly on Friday (22 September). Earlier this week, Al-Burhan continued with a series of state visits to Saudi Arabia and Uganda. 

Sudan/UN/AU: Meetings take place in support of response plans for Sudan
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, a high-level Ministerial event on Sudan took place. The event was jointly organised by the UN, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, EU and AU, with the aim to raise awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and boost the funding, response plans and peace negotiation efforts. During the high-level meeting, the US announced an additional $130 million of humanitarian aid for Sudan through USAID. Meanwhile, representatives of Sudanese trade unions, political parties and tribal leaders are reportedly expected to meet in Addis Ababa this week to continue with peace mediation efforts under the leadership of IGAD and AU.

Sudan: Clashes break out between the SAF and Beja tribe in Port Sudan
Fighting broke out between tribal militia, led by Sheba Darar, leader of a Beja tribe and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Port Sudan on Monday.  The militias reportedly stopped aid convoys at the checkpoint to carry out inspection of vehicles in order to be sure that they are not operated by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). It remains unclear what exactly sparked the open clashes. Observers warned that there is a need for peaceful resolution of increasing tensions between local tribes and army, otherwise the clashes may further endanger civilians as well as logistics from Port Sudan.

Sudan: Ongoing fighting causes further destruction
The RSF have been attacking the headquarters of the SAF during last weekend, while the SAF have targeted the bases of the RSF in the south of  Khartoum, witnesses reported. Several buildings caught fire amid heavy fighting in central Khartoum over the last weekend, including a landmark skyscraper, Greater Nile Petroleum Oil Company Tower. Heavy fighting was also witnessed in El-Obeid, North Kordofan. Meanwhile, a new report by CNN citing an anonymous source revealed that “Ukrainian special services were likely” involved in a series of drone strikes against the RSF, which has been known to be backed by the Wagner mercenary group. The report has not been independently verified and Ukrainian authorities have not claimed any responsibility for the operations. 

Sudan/ Horn of Africa: Humanitarian situation worsens due to disease outbreak and fighting
It is feared that thousands of newborn babies will die by the end of this year in Sudan due to severe underfunding, and constant attacks on healthcare services and frontline workers, said UNICEF. Dengue fever infections are on the rise in El Gedaref, eastern Sudan. Apart from affecting the local population, infections are spreading in the centres for internally displaced persons (IDP). The health situation among refugees affected by the conflict in Sudan is also extremely worrisome across several countries in the Horn of Africa, reports the UNHCR. At least 1,200 refugee children under the age of 5 died mostly due to a measles outbreak and undernutrition in White Nile state, Sudan, between 15 May and 14 September. Additionally, an alarming situation has also been reported from South Sudan, where 142 deaths have been recorded out of  5,770 suspected cases of measles. Children under 5 years old account for 70% of all cases. Schools across Sudan remain closed leaving about 12 million children waiting for the schools to reopen. Many school buildings are currently used to shelter displaced people. A positive result was achieved in a mediation operation when 30 children that were previously detained in relation to the conflict were released by the SAF, reports ICRC. The children were brought from Khartoum to a safe place in Wad Madani and taken into custody by the Ministry of Social Development.

Ethiopia/Tigray: Ongoing human rights violations in Ethiopia raises concern 
The human rights situation in Tigray remains grave with violence being committed against civilians by Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF), says the report of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) to the Human Rights Council. The Ethiopian Federal Government failed to adequately protect the population in Tigray against foreign military and Amhara militia present in Western and Southern areas of Tigray region, said ICHREE. The ICHREE expressed their significant concerns over the ongoing sexual and gender-based violence stating “there are reasonable grounds to believe that EDF members bear responsibility for continuing crimes of rape and sexual violence against women and girls in Tigray”. The report further highlighted the ongoing and widespread arbitrary detentions, use of hate speech, and ethnic and gender discrimination within Tigray as well as other regions across Ethiopia.  Meanwhile, six members of the US Congress have called for the extension of the mandate of the ICHREE. A letter addressed to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that it is “vital to maintain the only independent investigation mechanism”. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also expressed concerns over the extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and targeting of civilians in the Amhara region. EHRC has been monitoring the deteriorating human rights situation in Amhara and other regions across Ethiopia. State security forces are complicit in extrajudicial killings in the context of armed conflict, says the EHRC report. Additionally, it was reported that members of the Fano militia carried out an attack on civilians in the village of Dincho in West Oromia, killing and injuring several people. According to the medical staff, out of 11 people admitted to the hospital 5 died. The attack was reportedly launched on civilian mourners travelling from Nekemte to Gidda Ayana for a funeral of a driver who was shot dead one day prior to the attack.

Somalia: Food and aid diversion causes EU to temporarily suspend funding for WFP
A UN investigation has found a widespread and systemic diversion and misuse of humanitarian aid in Somalia. The investigation found that landowners, authorities, security forces and humanitarian workers were involved in the misuse of funds. Diversion was reported from all 55 IDP sites and led by “gate-keepers” who are typically associated with local powerful clans. The European Union temporarily suspended funding for the World Food Programme (WFP) to Somalia.

North Africa

Libya: Aftermath after devastating floods in Derma
At least 3,300 people have died and thousands more are still missing after the devastating floods in Derma, Libya, last week. According to DW, an estimated 10% of victims are foreigners in Libya. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Derma housed more than 8,000 refugees and migrants when the town was flooded. In addition, the IOM stated that more than 43,000 people have been displaced because of the floods and the aftermath of it. In addition to the floods, there is a threat of disease outbreak due to lack of clean water and sanitation.


Netherlands/Eritrea: Trial of alleged human trafficker, Tewolde Goitom – Walid continues
A hearing took place for the trial against the Eritrean Tewolde Goitom, known as Walid, an alleged human trafficker, in Zwolle, the Netherlands on Monday. Walid was not present, despite the request for him to attend the hearing. 26 proposed witnesses were accepted by the court, 5 of which are related to the charges of extortion. The court decided that Kidane, who is on trial in the UAE for financial white washing, can be heard as a witness for the defence. The next hearing will take place on the 13th of November 2023 at 09.30 a.m. CET.

Switzerland/Germany/Eritrea: Clashes at Eritrean festivals continue 
Violent clashes erupted during the Eritrean festival between loyalists of the Eritrean regime and the supporters defending human rights, held in Stuttgart, Germany on Saturday. The Eritrean festival was organised by the supporters of Eritrea’s ruling party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). 228 Eritrean opposition supporters were reportedly arrested by the German police.  The Swiss State Secretary for Migration, Christine Schraner Burgener, expressed concerns over the security situation in relation to the Eritrean festivals which caused riots earlier this month. Burgener said that she aims to work with the state authorities to ban the events if the risk of riots will be too high. Swiss authorities had previously announced that Eritreans loyal to the regime could be deported. Burgener emphasised that under Swiss legislation it is possible to revoke or deny asylum status or refugee status if there is a risk of internal or external security. 

EU/Oxfam: EU is in danger of breaking international aid rules states Oxfam
The EU risks breaking international aid rules in several migration programs funded by EU in Niger, Libya and Tunisia, according to an Oxfam report. The report identifies 6 out of 16 migration-related activities, with a total budget of € 667 million, in the three countries that potentially violate international aid rules set by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). The report emphasises the use of EU aid to curb irregular trans-continental migration from Africa to Europe “rather than promote development and eradicate poverty”. Oxfam stated that “more aid is directed towards activities that hinder migration and pose potential risks to people’s human rights rather than promoting safe and regular migration and economic growth through migration”. The OECD said “activities that neglect the rights of forcibly displaced persons and migrants do not qualify as aid”. The European Commission spokesperson, Ana Pisonero, has rejected the allegations saying that most of the aid missions are addressing the “root causes of migration”. 

Italy/EU: 10 Point plan to address migration after thousands of arrivals in Lampedusa
The EU has come up with a 10-point plan addressing migration in Lampedusa as the number of arrivals continues to increase and overwhelm facilities on the Italian island. According to the plan, more migrants will be transferred to other member states to reduce the burden on Italy. It will also seek better communication with countries of origin of the migrants and refugees as a way to increase possibilities of repatriation. France has said that they will not be accepting any refugees, while Germany has resumed the voluntary agreement after having suspended any acceptance temporarily. Poland has stated that it rejects the transfer of migrants from Lampedusa to other member states. According to the deputy interior minister, Maciej Wasik, Poland will hold a referendum to resist the EU’s plan. Additionally, the plan will also  include more “naval missions” in the Mediterranean, including having more operations through Frontex. It is, however, unclear how the EU wants to execute this plan as Tunisia has not agreed to allow Frontex to operate in its territory, says Euronews. Meanwhile, Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, increased the legal detainment of migrants from 3 to 18 months, reports Politico. The plan to establish new detention centres was also approved. Meloni visited Lampedusa with the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday, 17 September. During the visit, Meloni stated that “the future that Europe wants for itself is at stake here” as there has been a record number of arrivals in Europe since 2015, reports Dailymail

EU/Tunisia: Letter raising concerns about EU deal with Tunisia 
Josep Borrell, the High Representative of EU for Foreign Affairs, wrote a letter to Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, raising concerns about the new EU migration pact with Tunisia, according to The Guardian. The letter, sent on 7 September, stated that several MEPs had previously expressed their concerns about the deal with Tunisia and some of its content. The letter further highlighted that the procedural steps in adopting the EU-Tunisia pact were not fully respected. It is speculated that Borrell wrote this letter to prevent another similar agreement being made in the future without a discussion and consultation with member states. 

Vatican City/Marseille: Pope to visit Marseille and advocate for acceptance of migrants
The Pope is expected to visit Marseille in France to advocate for more tolerance and acceptance of refugees and migrants coming from North Africa. A meeting will take place in Marseille with 70 Catholic bishops and 120 young people from all over the Mediterranean-area, with the main objective to speak specifically to the issue of migration, and the “exploitation of migrants”. He calls for more compassion to be given to migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe from North Africa.