UK Government: Change of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Eritrea in February 2019 – 17 December

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has announced that Alisdair Walker has been appointed as UK Ambassador to Eritrea. He will take up his appointment in February 2019.
  • Walker was most recently Head of the China Internal Section of the East Asia Department at the FCO. Before that he held positions in the Human Rights Department and East Africa Department, and worked at UK embassies in South Korea, Nigeria, Russia, and Pakistan.
  • Walker will replace Ian Richards, who has served in Asmara since 2016.

BBC News: How sport helps Eritrea and Ethiopia unite – 17 December

  • BBC Sports Africa publishes a video on the Great Ethiopian Run in Addis Ababa, in which Eritrean Olympic medallist Zersenay Tadese competed for the first time, along with about 44,000 other participants.
  • Zersenay said the race was a good opportunity to reconnect with regional neighbours. “Sport is love”, he said. “With love everyone can come together, so we can make contact with Ethiopians, Eritreans, Kenyans, so it connects everybody.”
  • Gebre Gebremariam, an Ethiopian runner who said he had never competed alongside Zersenay in either of their countries, said: “Now we are in the right way, on the right track”.

Eritrea Hub: Conference declaration: EU must end support for the Eritrean dictatorship – 17 December

  • Eritrea Hub reports on the recent Brussels conference on Eritrea, at which 200 representatives of the Eritrean diaspora united to urge the international community to stop human trafficking and ensure the proper resettlement of migrants in Europe and Israel.
  • The conference concluded with a series of demands, including calling on the African Union, European Union, Israel, and the international community to end direct and indirect support to military and militia in Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, and to immediately halt any planned deportation of refuges to Eritrea for as long as their lives may be in danger.
  • In closing remarks to the conference, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Fr Mussie Zerai called upon the EU to “stop providing political support and finance to regimes in Northern and Eastern Africa which are colluding with human traffickers. This is well documented and is leading to the torture, extortion and even murder of refugees who are fleeing repression.”

The Gulf Today: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Receives Eritrean President – 17 December

  • The Gulf Today reports that President Isaias visited the UAE on Monday 17 December.
  • Isaias met with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed at the Beach Palace in Abu Dhabi. According to the report, the two “explored ties between the two countries, and means to develop them for their mutual interest and that of their peoples”.
  • The meeting was joined by members of the Crown Prince’s court and of Isaias’s delegation.

Irish Examiner: SUZANNE HARRINGTON: ‘The four boys at the station are lost deer’ – 17 December

  • Irish Examiner columnist Suzanne Harrington writes about an encounter she had at a British motorway service station with four young Eritrean refugees recently arrived from Calais.
  • She writes that they were all 16 years old, and had been sleeping rough in Calais for months while attempting to reach London.
  • “In Eritrea, there is unlimited national conscription”, she writes. “Basically, you are forced into the army, and cannot leave until you are 50 or dead, whichever happens first.”
  • Harrington mentions the recent cases of three young Eritreans who all took their own lives after reaching the UK without their parents, only to be “treated like adult criminals”.

Global Risk Insights: New alliances in the future of the Horn of Africa – 16 December

  • Global Risk Insights publishes an analysis by Rodrigo Vaz on geopolitical developments in the Horn of Africa, which identifies Eritrea as a beneficiary of the recent “stabilisation”.
  • The author identifies the historic conflict with Ethiopia as the primary justification for the Eritrean regime’s continued policy of mandatory conscription, although notes that there is no evidence to suggest that this policy is to be overhauled in light of the rapprochement.

Human Rights Watch: Human Rights Watch Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Eritrea – 16 December

  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) publishes its submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Eritrea, in which it says that it is “too early to know” whether President Isaias’s government will permit Eritreans to exercise their human rights, but that there have been “no improvements” since the last UPR.
  • The submission identifies three “major areas of concern”: indefinite national service, interference with religious beliefs and practices, and absence of the rule of law.
  • HRW says that Eritrea “took no steps” to implement recommendations made during the 2013 UPR, with the exception of acceding to the Convention Against Torture. Despite this, HRW says there has been “no evidence of any discernible change”, and reports of torture continue.
  • Among the submission’s recommendations are the release of all persons detained without trial; the establishment of an independent, impartial, transparent judiciary; and the holding of democratic and independently monitored elections.

Capital News: Peace, stability top agenda as Eritrea leader visits Kenya – 15 December

  • Kenyan outlet Capital FM has reported on President Isaias’s recent two-day state visit to Kenya, which took place at the weekend.
  • Isaias arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday 14 December, where he was met by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma. He was scheduled to hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on regional peace and stability.
  • President Isaias first visited Kenya in 2013, attending the Golden Jubilee celebrations in Nairobi and ending speculation over deteriorating bilateral relations following Kenya’s accusation that Asmara was supplying arms to Al Shabaab militants.
  • Kenya has no diplomatic mission in Asmara, and instead offers diplomatic and consular services through the Kenyan embassy in Cairo.

Ethiosports: Expunging Ethiopian Football’s Eritrean Legacy – 15 December

  • Ethiosports publishes a feature by Zecharias Zelalem on the sporting histories shared by Ethiopia and Eritrea, including the Eritrean footballers who helped the Ethiopian national team to victory in the 1962 Africa Cup of Nations.
  • Zecharias writes of the impact of historic political tensions on sport and athletes, including an incident in which Eritrean-Italian footballed Luciano Vassallo was targeted by the Derg government in 1978.
  • The recent rapprochement presents “a world of opportunities” for renewed political and cultural cooperation, he writes, including a potential “peace match” between the two nations’ football teams, but the Ethiopian Football Federation remains reticent.

Eritrea Hub: President Isaias “handing Eritrea to Ethiopia on a silver platter” – Prof Bereket Habte Selassie – 15 December

  • Author of the Eritrean constitution Prof Bereket Habte Selassie has said President Isaias is “handing Eritrea to Ethiopia on a silver platter”, in remarks critical of the regime’s handling of the recent rapprochement.
  • Prof Bereket said that by refusing to officially demarcate the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the government has undermined Eritrea’s sovereignty.
  • Prof Bereket has served as a senior advisor on constitutional reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Iraq, and others.

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