Eritrea Hub: Dutch Minister misses worst Libyan detention centres – 18 March

  • Eritrea Hub comments on the recent visit of a Dutch delegation, led by Migration Minister Mark Harbers, to refugee camps in Libya.
  • The delegation did not visit Zintan, a detention centre located 180km outside Tripoli, known for its “atrocious conditions” and often omitted by international dignitaries.
  • Eritrea Hub reports that in the last five months, 17 refugees detained in Zintan have died, mostly due to tuberculosis. Thirteen Eritreans were amongst the victims.
  • Although the UN refugee agency has been made aware of the circumstances in which the refugees are being held in Zintan, detainees say attempts to contact UNHCR have largely failed.

The National Interest: Will Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Last? – 19 March

  • American international affairs magazine The National Interest publishes a commentary by Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, on the future prospects of the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace accord.
  • Rubin writes that “while [Ethiopian Prime Minister] Abiy [Ahmed] appears sincere, it is far from clear Ethiopia-Eritrea peace will last”, partly because the older Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki “sees himself less as an equal to the forty-two-year-old Abiy than as a father figure and mentor… Isaias’ concept of diplomacy is dictating his position and then waiting for opponents to accept it without any compromise… Bilateral issues will inevitably arise, and it is unclear whether ordinary Ethiopians—let alone a fictitious political coalition—will back repeated Abiy’s concessions.”
  • Rubin concludes: “Ethiopia is growing more democratic while Eritrea has become the North Korea of the African continent, and Isaias has personal reasons to put the brakes on or even reverse the peace.”

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti to restore over 3 000 hectares of land in 2019 – 19 March

  • The FAO publishes a press release on an initiative agreed by countries in Eastern Africa to boost the expansion of the “Great Green Wall” and restore over 3000 hectares of degraded land in 2019.
  • The FAO’s twin land restoration projects – Action Against Desertification (ADD) and BRIDGES – were recently launched under FAO’s partnership with Turkey to support Eritrea, Mauritania and Sudan in restoring a total of 5,000 hectares of degraded land in the next three years.
  • Babagana Ahmadu, FAO representative in Sudan, said that land restoration is key to meeting sustainable development goals and to securing food, water and energy resources in Eastern Africa. “FAO, through AAD and BRIDGES, will continue to fight against drought, food insecurity and famine through sustainable land management and restoration activities”, he said.
  • Eritrea said it aims to restore over 1,000 hectares of degraded land, of which 300 hectares are in the localities of Maimene, Hagaz and Laelay Gash, benefiting some 530 households.

Al Jazeera: Eritrea’s secret prisons: UAE-run facilities discovered – 20 March

  • A recent investigative report by Al Jazeera revealed that a secret prison facility has apparently been built inside a military base which sits on the Eritrean coastline, in the port city of Assab.
  • In 2015 the UAE signed a 30-year lease to use the port, which provides a strategic vantage point for the war in Yemen. The UAE has used the Assab port to send military gear and soldiers to Yemen, while using its facilities to hold prisoners of war.
  • Dr Andreas Krieg, a political risk analyst and assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College says: “All of these massive detention centres that the UAE have built up… are black sites. They are part of black operations. They don’t appear on maps… They are run mostly by surrogates or by mercenaries or by local forces that they train and equip.” The Al Jazeera investigation obtained satellite images which show the detention centres.
  • Allegations of widespread torture and abuse taking place in a network of secret prisons in Yemen have been rejected by the UAE. Hundreds of Yemeni rebel fighters are reported to be detained in the camps – and some of them have now reportedly been transferred to Eritrea.
  • Matt Bryden, senior adviser at Sahan Research says: “The issue is, would organisations such as the Red Cross have access to those prisoners to verify the conditions under which they’ve been kept? Would there be sufficient transparency as to who is kept there, and under what terms eventually prisoners of war would be released?”

Jean-Jacques Cornish Blog: Human rights violations in Eritrea are as bad as ever – 20 March

  • Jean-Jacques Cornish, former London Bureau Chief of the South African Press Association, publishes a short article on his blog about Eritrea’s poor human rights record.
  • Cornish writes: “Despite making peace with its neighbours and being elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Eritrean regime of Isaias Afwerki continues severely to repress his people.”
  • He concludes: “Signing a peace deal with Ethiopia last year and re-establishing diplomatic relations with Djibouti have been hailed internationally. But according to Human Rights Watch, they’ve not changed Afwerki’s oppressive measures.”

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