defenceWeb: Eritrean refugees flown from Niger to Libya – 15 February

  • South African website defenceWeb reports on an announcement from the UN refugee agency that 159 Eritrean refugees were last week flown from Libya to Niger for resettlement.
  • UNHCR said the refugees were rescued from detention centres seen as “extremely over-crowded and lacking basic standards.”
  • Libya’s western coast is a main departure point for thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe, often on inflatable boats provided by smugglers.
  • “In Libya, 6,205 migrants and refugees are still detained, of whom 4,327 are of concern to UNHCR,” the agency said. From Niger the refugees will be resettled into different countries.

Peace Research Institute Oslo: Nobel Peace Prize 2019: PRIO Director’s Shortlist – 15 February

  • The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has named Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as one of its forerunners for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • PRIO Director Henrik Urdal – who has no association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee – lists Abiy’s achievements in formally ending the conflict with Eritrea, engaging in dialogue with armed regional opposition groups, implementing progressive reforms in Ethiopia, and naming a diverse cabinet with a more equal gender balance.
  • Urdal says that Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki could be a “possible co-winner… in acknowledgement of the peace agreement finally resolving the Eritrean-Ethiopian War.”

Al Arabiya: Ethiopia, Djibouti reach deal on natural gas pipeline – 16 February

  • Al Arabiya reports that landlocked Ethiopia has concluded a deal with Djibouti to build a 765km pipeline to transport natural gas to ports in the country.
  • Ethiopia’s mining ministry said the pipeline will be built by Chinese firm Poly-GCL and transport gas from fields in the eastern Ethiopian Somali region to Djibouti to be exported from there.
  • Al Arabiya reports that there was no mention of cost, nor start date for the project.
  • Ethiopia relies heavily on Djibouti’s ports for exports and imports. The country additionally hopes that the recent rapprochement with Eritrea will afford additional port access.

The National: Red Sea locust swarms spark UN warning for UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt  – 16 February

  • Emirati outlet The National reports that the UN has warned of a “substantial increase in locust populations and the formation of highly mobile swarms” threatening countries in the Red Sea region.
  • The swarms, which bred in Eritrea and Sudan thanks to favourable weather conditions late last year, now threaten the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • Adult locusts can eat their body weight in fresh vegetation every day. The FAO has warned that a small swarm can eat enough food for 35,000 people in just 24 hours.
  • Keith Cressman, senior locust forecaster at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said:  “The further spread of the current outbreak depends on two major factors – effective control and monitoring measures in locust breeding areas of Sudan, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries, and rainfall intensity between March and May along both sides of the Red Sea and in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula.”

New Business Ethiopia: Towards Singapore Of Bab El Mandeb – 16 February

  • New Business Ethiopia’s Andualem Sisay Gessesse considers the prospects of Djibouti in the wake of rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the potential effect that the opening up of Eritrean ports would have on Ethiopia’s past dependence on Djibouti.
  • Andualem writes: “By specializing on service sectors, Djibouti aims to become East Africa’s Singapore and sees the peace accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea as an opportunity for economic growth for the whole region.”
  • “Using the Port of Assab and the Port of Massawa in Eritrea can be advantageous for companies located in the northern part of Ethiopia,” writes Andualem, but “it is likely to require huge investment by the Eritrean government and take at least a few years to build highly competitive, efficient and modern port services to be able to compete against the specialized container terminal in Djibouti. The fact that these terminals are linked with the capital, Addis Ababa by railway is also an added advantage for Djibouti.”

Independent: Italy must face up to its fascist past – no amount of revisionism will erase its legacy of suffering – 17 February

  • The Independent publishes a comment by Italian writer Angelo Boccato, who accuses modern day Italian politicians of “the historical removal of the crimes of Fascist, and pre-Fascist Italy.”
  • He highlights recent comments by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a commemoration event near the Slovenian border.
  • Boccato writes: “ While German and Japanese war criminals were respectively prosecuted in the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, Italian war criminals were never prosecuted after the war, largely thanks to the Togliatti amnesty in 1946, a compromise between the Italian Communist Party and the Christian Democratic Party.”
  • “Italians also instituted segregation in Asmara as well as the rest of Eritrea, and there were divided bathrooms, buses and neighborhoods for Italian colonies and native Eritreans. During the fascist invasion of Ethiopia between 1935-1936, an invasion fuelled by the desire of avenging Adua’s defeat in 1896 at the hands of King Menelik II, Italian forces used chemical gas.”
  • Boccato references the documentary project Asmarina by Medhin Paolos and Alan Maglio as an example of attempts to decolonise Italian historical narratives.

Eritrea Hub: Power shift creates new tensions and Tigrayan fears in Ethiopia – 17 February

  • Eritrea Hub republishes a report by James Jeffrey of IRIN, who writes about the politics of ethnic identity and internal displacement in Ethiopia.
  • “During the first half of 2018, Ethiopia’s rate of 1.4 million new internally displaced people exceeded Syria’s. By the end of last year, the IDP population had mushroomed to nearly 2.4 million.”
  • “Since coming to power in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy – from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest – has brought major changes to the politics of the country, including an unprecedented redistribution of power within the ruling EPRDF [Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front] and away from the TPLF [Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front].”
  • “In 2017, an escalation in ethnic clashes in the Oromia and the Somali regions led to a spike in IDPs. This continued into 2018, when clashes between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups displaced approximately 970,000 people in the West Guji and Gedeo zones of neighbouring Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.”

The Conversation: Emperor Haile Selassie statue joins list of Africa’s troubled memorials – 18 February

  • Martin Plaut, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies, writes for The Conversation on the unveiling of a new statue of Emperor Haile Selassie outside the African Union building in Addis Ababa, comparing it to other “symbols of bygone regimes” throughout Africa.
  • “Some, including the Rastafarian community who still worship the Emperor as a god, were delighted [by the unveiling]. Others were furious, recalling his role in the 1973-74 famine or his suppression of Eritrean freedom.”
  • “Emperor Haile Selassie is an example of how leaders have gone in and out of fashion. The movements they lead wax and wane – and with them go the reputations of those who led them. His statue, now unveiled at the African Union, is recognition of his role as a champion of African freedom against colonial intervention.”


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