The European Union (EU) states that it looks for ways to facilitate improvements in human rights, governance and economics in Eritrea through its development aid. The fundamental problem, however, is that the Eritrean authorities seem to show no interest in these improvements and that it actively persecuted people in its own country that have demanded these improvements. The attempts from the EU to demand structural changes from the Eritrean regime have so far been unsuccessful, mostly due to its lack of bargaining power. On 25 June several members of the German Bundestag and human rights experts discussed the relation between the EU and Eritrea in a public intergroup zoom discussion; during this discussion some of these alternatives were debated. The Zoom discussion was moderated by Bundestag member Kathrin Vogler, representative of Die Linke (the left), and Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V., which provides international support for conscientious objectors and deserters.
Between May 24 and May 27 around 400 migrants and refugees have been picked up by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Libya. Two of them drowned during the operation. An additional 90 migrants and refugees have been stopped by a commercial ship and have been returned to Libya as well. The pushback operations are funded and supported by the European Union (EU) and individual member states like Malta and Italy. While Libya has been an unsafe place from the start of the EU’s so called externalized border policy, COVID-19 brings even more risks as detention camps in Libya are high-risk areas for the spread of the virus and rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea have been minimized. An additional element of danger is the intense civil war in Libya, which has turned into a geopolitical conflict and a proxy war between Russia and The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the one hand and Turkey on the other. The war takes its toll on the civilian population; on June 1 another 5 civilians were killed and 11 wounded in a rocket attack near Tripoli.
While the European Union (EU) is looking to further bolster Libya and the Libyan coastguard, a majority of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and a number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and experts criticize the EU’s involvement in the human rights abuses that are systematically taking place inside Libya. They state that Libya is not a safe place for the disembarkation of migrants and refugees and that by financially supporting Libyan institutions that facilitate widespread and systematic human rights abuses, the EU has been complicit in these crimes. This week steps were taken to address and review the EU’s policies and accountability inside Libya.