Reuters: Ethiopia allows almost 1 million refugees to leave camps and work – 17 January

  • Ethiopia passed a law on 16 January giving almost 1 million refugees the right to work and live outside of camps. Refugees will be able to attend regular schools, travel and work across the country, formally register births, marriages and deaths, and will have access financial services such as bank accounts.
  • Ethiopia is host to more than 900,000 people who have fled conflict, drought and persecution in neighbouring countries, such as Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. Before the House of Peoples’ Representatives enacted the new law, many refugees were confined to one of 20 camps across the country with no permission to work.
  • The new law is in line with Ethiopia’s commitment to the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees, adopted by world leaders in December 2018 to increase refugees’ self-reliance and ease the pressure on host nations.
  • Dana Hughes, spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency in East Africa, said: “We must remember that access to education and employment doesn’t just benefit refugees, it also contributes to the economy and benefits local communities. Such legislation isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Africanews: Eritrea condemns Nairobi attacks, pledges support to combat terror – 17 January

  • Africanews reports that the Eritrean Government has condemned the “heinous and cowardly” attack that claimed 21 lives in Nairobi on Tuesday 15 January.
  • Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group operating in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Yemane Meskel, the Eritrean Information Minister, tweeted: “In a letter to his Kenyan counterpart, FM (Foreign Minister) Osman Saleh conveyed a message of condolence to the Government and people of Kenya & further underlined Eritrea’s support in eradicating this scourge.” The president and prime minister of Ethiopia, and the Somali, Djiboutian and Tanzanian presidents have also sent condolences to Kenya.
  • In November 2018 the UN lifted sanctions imposed on Eritrea in 2009 after it was accused of supporting militant groups in Somalia. A recently published book on Al-Shabaab, written by Voice of America journalists Harun Maruf and Dan Joseph, indicates that Asmara was indeed supporting the insurgents with cash and logistics at one point.

TRT News: The Great Game in the Horn of Africa – 17 January

  • TRT News, a Turkish media outlet, publishes a piece by Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, who discusses the growing strategic interest shown by global powers in the Horn of Africa.
  • US strategy in the region shifted when China established a military base in Djibouti. Maru writes that, fearing China’s control would spread further in the Horn region, “US officials have called for the establishment of a US military camp in Eritrea as an alternate or in addition to the one in Djibouti […] Eritrea is now America’s new ally in the Red Sea.”
  • The UAE has also emerged as a competitor as it aspires to serve as a manufacturing hub and control the ports along the Red Sea. Maru says that the UAE-bloc “competes against Qatar’s increasing global influence”. Qatar is said to have given “direct support to state and non-state actors” in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  • According to Maru, “the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ in Europe brought accelerated changes to diplomatic alliances in the Horn of Africa” – triggering a policy of rapprochement between the EU, Eritrea and Sudan.

Proactive Investors: Danakali near-financing a positive sign for ‘shovel ready’ Eritrean potash project – 18 January

  • Financial website Proactive Investors reports that Danakali Ltd has “powered up its ambitions to construct and develop the Colluli Potash Project in Eritrea” with a US$200 million syndicated loan facility led by African development financial institutions (DFIs) African Export-Import Bank and Africa Finance Corporation, subject to conditions.
  • Danakali secured its funding mandate for the project from the two African financiers in December 2018. Executive chairman Seamus Cornelius said: “The execution of the mandate represents a significant milestone for the Colluli project funding.”
  • Cornelius told Proactive Investors’ Stocktube video channel: “This is major African institutions joining us, joining our existing partners at ENAMCO [Eritrean National Mining Corporation], and joining EuroChem, our offtake partners.”
  • Cornelius also described the lifting of UN sanctions on Eritrea as “a very positive thing”, saying: “The sanctions were never specifically impacting us but as you can imagine, the general atmosphere was negatively affected by the fact of the sanctions”.

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