Human Rights Concern Eritrea: Open Letter to His Excellency Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – 05 February

  • Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE) has issued an open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, asking him to “consider critically the validity and trustworthiness” of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki last July.
  • HRCE lauds Abiy’s “efforts to forge a lasting peace with Eritrea, concluding an agreement which promises to end 20 years of state of hostilities following the border war which killed over 100,000 people.”
  • However, HRCE urges Abiy to recognise that the democratic reforms implemented in Ethiopia have not been reflected across the border. HRCE writes: “The new peace deal you signed with President Isaias is not transparent, and the Eritrean people have been told nothing about it by their unelected leader. What constitutional basis, what legal guarantees does this agreement have without the ratification of a parliament?”
  • HRCE calls on Abiy to “refrain from promoting the Eritrean regime by words or actions, either overtly or covertly.” “By complimenting the Eritrean government, you are by implication promoting the continued and flagrant abuse of human rights in Eritrea and encouraging the unelected president to continue committing crimes against humanity on the Eritrean people.”

TIME: The Families of Migrants Held Hostage Are Using Facebook to Raise Money for Smugglers’ Ransoms  – 05 February

  • TIME publishes a feature on refugee families appealing for money to pay ransoms demanded by people smugglers. The article includes the story of 27 year-old Eritrean Mulugeta, who was held at ransom and forced to pay more than $18,000 to five different smugglers.
  • “Smugglers in north Africa see refugees and migrants as a commodity. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have been held captive by smuggling gangs, who demand hefty ransoms, and torture those who can’t pay up. As in Mulugeta’s case, relatives and friends of those held captive are increasingly turning to Facebook to raise the sums.”
  • Mulugeta spoke to TIME through Facebook messages from a detention centre in southern Tripoli, saying that he still worried about his future, and that he could not return to Eritrea, where he fled indefinite military service.
  • Crowdfunding ransom payments through social media is becoming increasingly prevalent. TIME reports that it has “seen eight posts since late November, each shared hundreds or thousands of times between the Eritrean diaspora, with instructions on how to donate directly to a captive’s family.”
  • Mark Micallef, a senior researcher at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, told TIME that “it’s possible that tens of thousands of Eritreans have been held hostage in the past year”.

Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2019: Democracy in Retreat – 05 February

  • Washington-based rights group Freedom House has released its flagship annual Freedom in the World report, which assesses the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world.
  • The 2019 report found that a total of 68 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties during 2018, especially regarding elections and the human rights of migrants, with only 50 registering gains.
  • Eritrea is listed in the bottom three of the 50 ‘Worst of the Worst’ countries, scoring the lowest aggregates for political rights and civil liberties. Only South Sudan and Syria scored lower.

Horn Diplomat: Eritrean Public Diplomacy Delegation to Visit Ethiopia – 06 February

  • Horn Diplomat reports that an Eritrean public diplomacy delegation is due to visit Ethiopia next Thursday February 14.
  • The delegation is set to attend a series of cultural events and musical concerts in Addis Ababa, Adama, Bahir Dar and Hawassa.
  • The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said that the concerts and events fall under the theme of a “Grand Musical Concert to Celebrate the Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

Sudan Tribune: Sudan transfers 1400 Ethiopian refugees to camp in Gedaref – 06 February

  • The Sudan Tribune reports that 1400 Ethiopian refugees have been transferred internally from the Basonda and Al-Fazra areas to a camp in Al-Shagarab in order to “complete their applications for refugee status in Sudan”, according to officials.
  • Commissioner Osman Mohamed Ahmed is reported to have claimed that ethnic clashes between Ahmara and Tigray pushed refugees to enter Sudan last month. He said that 98 refugees had been repatriated to Ethiopia.
  • Sudan is estimated to host 110,000 Eritrean refugees, 400,000 South Sudanese refugees, and more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, all in need of humanitarian assistance, along with an additional 500,000 South Sudanese who stayed after the separation.

African Daily Voice: Eritrean government works on efforts to meet health institutions demands – 06 February

  • The African Daily Voice reports on recent remarks by the Eritrean Health Minister on the state of healthcare in the country.
  • Speaking at an “activity assessment” in Massawa, Amina Nurhussein said: “Strong effort has been exerted nationwide to reduce maternity and child mortality rate”. She called for “reinforced participation with the objective of curbing maternity and infant mortality during delivery.”
  • Dr Tesfay Tesfazgi, head of the health branch in the Northern Red Sea Region, said that a new health institution in the Ela-Babu area was now operational, and that another health institution is currently under construction in Bada.

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