CBC:  What did Canadian mining executives know about possible human rights violations in Eritrea? – 22 January

  • Covering the case of former Bisha mine workers against Nevsun Resources over allegations of forced labour, slavery, and torture, CBC News reports that the Supreme Court will consider whether the case can be tried in Canada on 23 January (today). The outcome could have a far-reaching impact on Canadian firms operating abroad.
  • CBC reports that Nevsun executives had publicly denied any direct knowledge of human rights violations at their Bisha mine when they spoke before a parliamentary committee. However, company documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia last November prove that executives had been informed of the issues of forced labour a decade ago. One April 2019 report reads: “the project is at risk for contravention of the prohibition on the use of forced labour, as represented by the use of NS workers.”
  • Kerry Connor, a U.S social development expert, confirmed in a 2009 email that Stan Rogers, the manager of the mine at the time, said “he recognizes it’s forced labour and says it permeates the whole country with nearly everyone in some way associated with the ‘program’.”
  • Nevsun is a partner with the government of Eritrea through the Bisha Mining Share Company (BMSC). The mine is 40 per cent owned by the Eritrean National Mining Corporation (ENAMCO).
  • Felix Horne, from Human Rights Watch, said: “The Nevsun experience is an important lesson for the other international mining companies that are operating in Eritrea, that unless proper procedures are put in place from the beginning, you will likely be using national service labour for the development of your mine.”

Africanews:  Italy to fund Ethiopia – Eritrea railway feasibility study – Abiy – 22 January

  • Africanews reports that Italy has pledged to fund a feasibility study for a planned rail line which would connect the Eritrean port city of Massawa and the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
  • During his visit, Abiy met with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace to discuss historical relations and bilateral cooperation in key areas.
  • Prime Minister Abiy spoke with Giuseppe Conte during his visit to Rome on 21 January, to confirm that Italy had agreed to finance the first phase of the study.
  • A route of that scope would mean a crucial development in linking Eritrea and Ethiopia. At the moment, Ethiopia’s most important rail line was built by china in 2016, and links Addis Ababa to Djibouti.

The Star: Uhuru to leave for Eritrea on Friday – State House – 23 January

  • The Star, a Kenyan newspaper, reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to visit Eritrea on 24 January, to explore possibilities of establishing an embassy in the country.
  • In 2018, president Isaias visited Kenya and discussed issues of peace and stability with President Kenyatta.
  • The renewal of relations between the two nations comes after the Kenyan Foreign Ministry accused the Eritrean government of supplying arms to the Al-Shabaab militant group in 2011.

 

City Metric: Eritrea’s Modernist architecture: a striking reminder of years of oppression – 23 January

  • City Metric, an arm of the New Statesman focused on population and urbanism, publishes an opinion piece by Charlie Lawrence Jones, who comments on the modernist architecture inherited from colonisation which “grew to dominate 20th century design”.
  • Peter Volgger, an academic who studied the impact of the modernist architecture in post-colonial Eritrea, suggested that “Colonial cities were often projection screens for modernist fantasies and were built as futuristic visions for European cities.”
  • Lawrence says: “the Modernist buildings continued to be built long after the Italians had left Eritrea”, quoting the IRGA Garage as a symbol of modernism, which was built in 1961.
  • Having been recognised by UNESCO as a site of particular cultural importance and included in their world heritage list, Asmara is able to draw funds from UNESCO directly.
  • Lawrence however concludes: “Despite their architectural interest they cannot and should not be divorced from the grim historical reality of their existence. “

Gulf news: Abraham sets sights on Farah’s European record – 23 January

  • Gulf News reports that Tadesse Abrahams will compete at the 2019 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on 25 January, where he will aim to set an historic personal milestone against Sir Mo Farah, who holds the European marathon record.
  • Born and raised in Eritrea, Tadesse had to run 20km to school each day at an altitude of 2,400m. He then started a running career that saw him represent the country of his birth at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in 2004.
  • Gulf news reports that if he broke Sir Mo Farah’s record, it would be the apex of his remarkable running journey.
  • Ahead of the competition, Abrahams says: “During my marathon preparation I run about 200km per week. […] I have big goals but as the proverb says: ‘Only with an impossible goal can you achieve what’s possible’.”

Vatican News: Prime Minister Abiy visits Pope Francis – 23 January

  • Vatican News reports that Pope Francis received, in private audience, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on 21 January.
  • Prime Minister Abiy also met with the Holy See’s Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, the Under-Secretary for Relations with States – effectively, the ‘deputy foreign minister of the Holy See.’
  • The Holy Father told diplomats accredited to the Holy See: “In the course of the past year, there have been some significant signs of peace, starting with the historic agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which puts an end to twenty years of conflict and restores diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

 

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