The Conversation: Concerns over Eritrea’s role in efforts by Africa and EU to manage refugees – 28 November

  • Writing in The Conversation, Martin Plaut, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, discusses the nomination of Eritrea to chair the Khartoum Process in 2019.
  • The EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, commonly referred to as the Khartoum Process, is designed to reduce the number of Africans crossing the Mediterranean to Europe by preventing migrant smuggling and human trafficking. Measures include training the Libyan government coastguard, who regularly deliver people collected at sea to brutal prison camps.
  • The role of Chair alternates between European and African countries each year. The nomination of Eritrea by the African members of the steering committee has been heavily criticised due to Eritrea’s poor human rights records, and evidence that its own officials are directly implicated in human trafficking.

The New York Times Magazine: ‘They’re Going to Come for Us’: A Teenage Girl Caught in a War’s Riptides – 28 November

  • The New York Times publishes an article by Salem Solomon, a multimedia digital journalist at Voice of America, who was deported to Eritrea from Ethiopia as a teenager.
  • Solomon, whose parents were born in Eritrea, was deported along with her family in 1998. About 75,000 Eritreans were sent back, while some 70,000 Ethiopians were expelled from Eritrea.
  • Solomon writes about her struggles to assimilate in Eritrea, and explains how she and her classmates were sent to a military training camp in Gahtelay during a mass mobilization that followed an Ethiopian military advance on Barentu.
  • Solomon writes that “all deportees share […] a knowledge of how fragile nationality and identity can be. We were born in a country and believed we had basic birthrights as citizens. Instead, we learned that ruling politicians can make any excuse to take those rights away — even not liking the color of our eyes.”

AllAfrica.com: Eritrea: Discussion Forum of Eritrean Nationals – 28 November

  • AllAfrica republishes a press release issued by the Eritrean Ministry of Information on a ‘discussion forum’ held on 24 November, attended by the Eritrean Ambassador to the UK.
  • Also in attendance, according to the release, were Ahmed Mohammed Mahmud, Chairman of the National Committee, and Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria, who was “representing friends of Eritrea”, and who “delivered messages of congratulations”.
  • The Ministry of Information notes that Ambassador Estifanos Habtemariam “handed over certificates of recognition to national organizations and associations for outstanding contribution.”

National Geographic: Eritrea: The price of peace – 27 November

  • National Geographic publishes a piece by travel writer Nick Redmayne, who travelled to Eritrea earlier this month.
  • He tells of encounters with Eritreans in Asmara, who commented on the prevalence of Ethiopian goods in Eritrea since the peace agreement, and their experiences of indefinite national service. He meets a man who tells him that national service “keeps people busy… so they don’t overthrow the government.”
  • Redmayne writes that when President Isaias’ recent TV interview was broadcast in his hotel’s lobby, people gathered expectantly but gradually drifted away when it became clear that he was announcing “nothing new at all”, according to the hotel receptionist.

Africanews.com: Eritrea-Ethiopia deal: EU delegation meets Afwerki’s advisor in Asmara – 27 November

  • Africa News reports on a meeting between European Union officials and Eritrean presidential advisor Yemane Gebreab in Asmara on 27 November.
  • Koen Vervaeke, Managing Director for Africa at the EU’s External Action Service (EEA), tweeted that he had met with Gebreab to discuss “the extraordinary rapprochement with Ethiopia, impact in Eritrea and in the Horn and ways the EU could best support these evolutions.”
  • The EU delegation is in Asmara to hold talks on support to the July peace initiative.

AllAfrica: Eritrea: Now the Onus Is On Eritrea to Reform – 27 November

  • AllAfrica publishes a guest analysis by Ambassador James C Swan, former US Ambassador to Djibouti and to the DRC, on the UN Security Council vote to end sanctions on Eritrea, which he says is the “clearest signal yet of the international community’s confidence in regional peacemaking efforts”.
  • Swan says that the United States “worked quietly behind the scenes to bring Eritrean and Ethiopian officials together to discuss options for reconciliation”, while the diplomatic efforts of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to reduce tensions may result in security and economic benefits for the Gulf nations.
  • He concludes: “To reciprocate the overtures by other Horn leaders and consolidate the momentum for peace, Isaias should move quickly to institute democratic reforms; end indefinite conscription of youth in favor of education and job-creation programs; adopt economic policies to stimulate regional trade and attract investment; resume relations with the donor community; work with Ethiopia to implement the peace accords, including border arrangements; and cooperate with Djibouti to reach a permanent resolution of the disputed border area, which overlooks the strategic Bab el Mandeb straits.”

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