Info Migrants: ‘I feel like I’m in a giant prison’ – 19 December

  • Info Migrants publishes a feature about Abdelfeteh Mohamed, an author and cultural mediator who migrated from Eritrea to Italy, passing through Libya.
  • Abdelfeteh fled Eritrea to escape indefinite national service, and found work in Libya. When the war broke out in 2011, he was driven to seek refuge in Europe. He arrived in Italy and has been staying in Catania, Sicily, since then.
  • Abdelfeteh is said to be angry about the “instrumentalization of migration by politicians” across Europe. He says: “The result is that the government has made the people think that migration is the only problem Italy faces. It is obvious that when you make people believe that then they will vote for someone who tells them they will stop all migration.”
  • Abdelfeteh, who works as a cultural mediator, recalls how the Italian government violated international laws when it kept the Diciotti, an Italian patrol boat, stranded in Catania’s port for ten days, leaving all 177 migrants (97 of them Eritreans) in uncertainty and fear.

African Arguments: Eritrea’s “state of uncertainty”: Senior government sources reveal…nothing – 19 December

  • African Argument publishes an analysis by Abraham T Zere, executive director of PEN Eritrea, on President Isaias’s rule of Eritrea throughout 2018.
  • Abraham says that the secrecy with which Isaias rules the political system “has reached new heights” in 2018, and that he “is now making momentous decisions almost single-handedly”.
  • According to anonymous inside sources, most ministers only found out that Eritrea would be sending a delegation to Ethiopia to discuss peace negotiations when Isaias publicly announced it.
  • “We are all in a state of uncertainty,” said one senior official. “Obviously, a love affair [between Isaias and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed], now turning into a romantic series, is being played way above us. Everyone complains. No one knows what to do.”
  • Abraham writes that speculation and fear have filled the gaps left by uncertainty, particularly around plans for a future confederation of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Addis Fortune: What Eritrea Can Learn By Looking Southward – 19 December

  • Financial newspaper Addis Fortune publishes an analysis by Ambessaw Assegued about the current state of Eritrea’s financial system as it opens up following regional peace efforts.
  • • Ambessaw explains that in Eritrea, visitors cannot use their bank cards and must settle payments in hard currency. A hotel manager explains that it has been “three or four years” since their credit processor bank in London stopped processing payments.
  • He writes: “For the individual visiting Eritrea and for businesses operating in the country there are no financial instruments by which to transact with the outside world. There are no means by which to send or receive cash, issue drafts or money orders, conduct money transfers or use other payment instruments, deposits, credit or letters of credit.”
  • He suggests that, due to its closed economy, Eritrea has largely avoided the hazards of unfulfilled investments and other mass infrastructure projects, while Ethiopia’s has experienced increased income inequality and internal displacement.
  • Ambessaw argues that Ethiopia and Eritrea must soon formalise customs, tax, and travel regulations, in light of the “free-wheeling activities and unregulated trade” occurring over the currently porous borders, lest this state of affairs set a “dangerous precedent of lawlessness on both sides”.

IRIN: Briefing: The new global refugee pact – 18 December

  • IRIN publishes an analysis of the new global refugee compact adopted this month, with the aim of sharing responsibility for refugee resettlement and cooperate on migration.
  • More than 180 UN member states voted in favour of the deal to help the more than 25 million refugees who have crossed an international border in search of safety from war, persecution, or violence.
  • Only the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, and Libya abstained from voting.
  • The Compact came about in two phases over 18 months, and builds on the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and other international legal instruments covering refugee and humanitarian law.

The Jerusalem Post: Eritrean and Sudanese crime data released for first time in five years – 17 December

  • The Israeli police opened a combined total of more than 1000 cases on Eritrean and Sudanese migrants for violent, property, and sex offenses in 2017, according to new figures reported in the Jerusalem Post.
  • There were 543 cases opened on Eritrean and Sudanese migrants for violent offences, 402 for property offences, and 72 for sex offences in 2017. Proportionally, this is greater than the number of cases opened for all other migrant populations in Israel.
  • The Post underlines that it is not clear from this data whether these figures “stemmed from police accusing more migrants of crimes or because these migrants are actually committing more crimes”, and that the report did not show the number of convicted criminals, only the number of opened cases.
  • A police spokesperson said that releasing this kind of data with a breakdown by country of origin “may harm public safety and security”. The Post notes that despite this, the figures were released anyway.
  • In late November, a 12 year-old Eritrean asylum seeker was found dead in her apartment block in Tel Aviv. Yuval Hayo, of the State Comptroller’s Office, told Ynet that there is a “constitutional and moral” issue around Israel’s treatment of refugees, and that society “[does] not recognize their existence”.

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