UNHCR: Eritrean minors reunited with mother after eight-year odyssey – 24 January

  • The UNHCR publishes a feature on two young Eritrean siblings reunited with their mother in Switzerland after almost a decade of separation, during which they survived kidnapping, detention, and a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The children’s mother had to flee persecution in Eritrea in 2010 and decided to leave her children with their grandparents. After five years of relative stability, in 2015 her young son and daughter were themselves forced to flee insecurity in Eritrea and cross the border into Ethiopia, where they lost contact with their mother.
  • Their journey saw them beg rides to cross Ethiopia and Sudan, suffer violent abduction by smugglers at the Sudanese-Libyan border, and a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean with other Eritrean refugees. They eventually made contact with their mother from a detention camp in Libya, where UNHCR tracked down the children and intervened.
  • The children were eventually granted humanitarian visas by the Swiss government and were able to join their mother.

Assenna: New leadership for Parliamentary Group on Eritrea – 25 January

  • Assenna publishes an Eritrea Focus press release on the recent AGM of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eritrea.
  • Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West, was elected as Co-Chair of the APPG along with David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud.
  • Patrick Grady MP (SNP, Glasgow North); Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench); Jeremy Lefroy MP (Conservative, Stafford); Ann Clwyd MP (Labour, Cynon Valley); and Sir Henry Bellingham (Conservative, North West Norfolk) have been elected as Vice-chairs of the Group.
  • The APPG’s agenda will focus on raising key concerns about Eritrea and Eritrean refugees in Parliament, consulting with the Government on UK policy towards Eritrea and supporting the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
  • Welcoming the new Co-Chairs, Patrick Grady said: “I am sure that under their stewardship the group will continue its vital work, particularly at a time of rapid regional developments in the Horn of Africa.”

All Africa: Eritrea: Encouraging Activities for Realizing Millennium Goals – 26 January

  • AllAfrica publishes a press release issued by the Eritrean Ministry of Information reporting progress in the health sector.
  • Amina Nurhussen, Minister of Health, spoke at an activity assessment meeting of the Anseba region held in Keren City on 23 and 24 January and called for integrated efforts from major stakeholders to reach the targets of the 2017-2021 Strategic Development Goals.
  • According to Dr Kesetebrhan Solomon, head of the branch office, “the number of pregnant women delivering in health facilities has increased significantly, the coverage of vaccinations has reached 76%, and commendable effort has been conducted in cooperation with the Gash Barka region to control the prevalence of communicable diseases.”

The National: Ethiopia apologises after Dubai marathon fans ‘erase Eritrea’ from map – 27 January

  • The National, a United Arab Emirates media outlet, reports that the Ethiopian embassy in the UK has apologised for posting a picture of Dubai marathon supporters from Ethiopia holding up an “erroneous” map of Ethiopia, which “failed to depict Eritrea as a separate state.”
  • As Ethiopian athlete Getaneh Molla set a new course record in the men’s race on 25 January, his supporters celebrated by waving national flags, while “one held up a map of Ethiopia that mistakenly incorporated Eritrea”. The photo was shared by the account of the Ethiopian embassy, triggering an Eritrean outcry on social media.
  • One Twitter user described the picture as a “deliberate and failed attempt to test our nationalism”. A comment on Facebook read: “Ethiopians should understand that and it’s a red line to us. Use the correct map Ethiopians.”
  • The Ethiopian embassy apologised for the post on 26 January, stating: “We realise that this post has caused offence and have subsequently taken it down. It was a genuine mistake and we regret its posting and any offence it inadvertently caused.”
  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki were honoured with the UAE’s highest civil honour in July last year when the two former rivals met in Abu Dhabi.

Ethiopia Insight: Ethiopia: Oromos must seize historic opportunity and avoid civil war – 27 January


  • Ethiopia Insight publishes an opinion piece by Olaana Abbaaxiiqi, who writes that some in Ethiopia’s Oromo population are beginning to question whether their hopes of an end to “150 years of Oromo subjugation” thanks to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform programme are “a false dawn”. Issues persist between Oromo elites and the reintegration of militant groups formerly exiled in Eritrea, he writes.
  • Olaana says: “If this government is pushed too much, this will most likely not result in negotiated or forceful power transition to another regime, but would lead to a state collapse.
  • “Because the transition was top down, the regime does not have an organizational structure and cadres of supporters that it controls. This makes it weak; it cannot easily mobilize the population and get acceptance… it has a drastically different agenda from the bureaucracy it came from, but at the same time because it did not dismantle it, the government does not fully control the bureaucracy, and therefore, it is difficult to implement its policies.”
  • He concludes: “The road to democracy involves complex transformation within the economic, social and political system, and should not be undertaken haphazardly. The consequence of failure is dire and we should tread boldly, but very carefully.” 





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