WPR: Will Peace With Ethiopia Usher In a Political Opening in Eritrea? [Subscription only] – 19 February

  • The World Politics Review publishes a piece by Tanja R. Müller, reader in Development Studies at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, who discusses the situation in Eritrea post-peace agreement.
  • Müller writes that the apparent lack of reform in Eritrea has meant, among other things, that “those in the large Eritrean diaspora who long to return but are reluctant because they are on record as having stated critical views of the government will have little reason to think they are welcome.”
  • An Ethiopian researcher wishing to remain anonymous alleges that many people who register as refugees with the UN in Ethiopia “are in fact Tigrayans posing as Eritreans because they think they’ll have a better chance of being selected for a resettlement program in the West.”
  • Müller writes: “One can easily imagine why would-be refugees, both Eritreans and Ethiopians, would try to take what they see as their last chance for resettlement, before political change potentially makes successful asylum claims more difficult.”
  • Many of the Eritreans she meets in the Ethiopian city of Mekelle say they are there to purchase goods to take back to Eritrea.
  • She concludes: “While the Eritrean government might for now bank on the widespread relief that peace has finally come and put off making real concessions, a failure to create more accountable structures of government means there will be no repairing the relationship between many Eritreans and the country’s leadership. Without such an internal realignment, the high rates of Eritrean out-migration are unlikely to diminish substantially.”

The Asahi Shimbun: Foodhini serves up culinary diplomacy in D.C. community – 20 February

  • The Asahi Shimbun, a prominent Japanese national newspaper, reports on Foodhini, a Washington, D.C.-based food delivery business where five refugee and immigrant chefs coming from Eritrea, Iran, the Philippines, Laos and Syria are currently employed.
  • Yebralem, a refugee from Eritrea, started to work in Foodhini’s kitchen after the International Rescue Committee introduced her to Foodhini founder Noobtsaa Philip Vang. In her native Eritrea, Yebralem had catered for large events including weddings, but political instability forced her and her family to flee, first moving to South Africa before ultimately moving to the United States as refugees nearly three years ago. Yebralem is featured on the Foodhini website.
  • Vang and his partners are intent on creating sustainable job opportunities for the Foodhini chefs. Each chef team member is salaried and can receive health-care benefits. Vang envisions Foodhini as a launching pad for his chefs, allowing them to one day branch out and start their own restaurants or business ventures.
  • In 2018, the number of deliveries averaged between 100 and 130 meals per week. In addition to delivering meals, Vang wants to strengthen the connections between Foodhini chefs and customers in other ways going forward.

Eritrea Hub: Is Eritrea moving towards a ‘virtual’ border with Ethiopia? – 20 February

  • Eritrea Hub publishes a post on the need for Eritrea and Ethiopia to demarcate their common border following the peace deal signed in Saudi Arabia in September 2018.
  • Sophia Tesfamariam, an Eritrean commentator, tweeted that a “virtual demarcation” is “the most advanced modern technique used in demarcating land and sea borders, [which would also] outlast any physical markers.”
  • In 2013, Sophia published an article citing a leaked American cable which quoted President Isaias as insisting that there must be “stakes in the ground” before any dialogue with Ethiopia would begin.

New Business Ethiopia: Ethiopian, Eritrean Leaders Set To Sign Detail Deals – 20 February

  • New Business Ethiopia reports that the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea are set to formalise relations by signing detailed cooperation agreements to boost economic relations, focusing on trade regulations and infrastructural connectivity.
  • Redwan Hussein, Ethiopian Ambassador to Eritrea, said: “After Ethiopia and Eritrea endorsed the agreements by their legislative organs, they would establish a joint commission that supervise the execution of accords in such a way ensuring the mutual benefit of people of the two countries and putting the rapprochement in solid base.”
  • A 63-member Eritrean Public Diplomacy and Cultural Group recently travelled to Ethiopia with the aim of strengthening relationships. A similar delegation is expected to travel from Ethiopia to Asmara in the future.


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