News Highlights: Famine and sexual violence “weapons of war” in Tigray, Tigray hospital raided in retribution, EU criticised over ‘chain pushbacks’

In this week’s news highlights: Alex de Waal says Tigray famine is systematic and used as weapon of war by Eritrean and Ethiopian troops; Famine in Tigray surges to highest emergency levels; Ethiopian soldiers stormed Aksum hospital in retaliation to CNN report; Rape used as an act of genocide in Tigray – Webinar; People in Tigray rural areas still cut off from essentials, says MSF; A religious humanitarian worker confirms atrocities in Tigray; NYT reporter expelled from Ethiopia; Eritrea diasporic communities have complex interaction with Eritrean politics – journal; Refugees die off Tunisian coast; Report heavily condemns “inhumane” prosed EU migration pact; Thousands illegally pushed back by EU states, including chain pushbacks, says DRC; Thousands of migrants and refugees enter in Spanish enclave of Ceuta; EU seeks a migration deal with Tunisia and Libya; New EU migration pact “inhumane” and Italian former Interior Minister will not stand to trial in Gregoretti inquiry; UNHCR warns against “externalisation” of refugees; The UNHCR High Commissioner asks not to abandon LGBTIQ+ refugees.

Pushbacks at European Union’s external border – the new normal?

Lack of evidence is not the problem. In the last years, different civil society and research organizations have collected numerous testimonies of migrants and refugees that have been violently sent back by authorities after they crossed the border of the Westens Balkans, Morocco, Sebia, Turkey or Belarus into the European Union (EU). In many cases, these people – looking for dignity and international protection – reported abuse, humiliation and beatings. In the so called ‘pushbacks’, access to the asylum procedure is denied; asylum seekers are not registered but immediately returned to the other side of the border. Member of the European Parliament Tineke Strik is worried this inhumane and unlawful way of pushing people out of the EU is becoming a normality. On February 18, during the breakfast briefing organized by the Greens/EFA and the Open Society European Policy Institute; ‘Strengthening borders, weakening the rule of law?’ Strik, together with experts in the field, brought the attention to the pushbacks that take place at EU’s external borders. It was concluded that the approach for EU border control needs to be reconsidered and an independent border control mechanism should be implemented to stop the unlawful pushbacks from happening.