Deutsche Welle: Eritreans against a refugee status in Ethiopia – 05 January

  • German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) publishes a photo report from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, looking at cross-border movement between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  • The report notes that since the opening of the border towns, Eritreans come more regularly to Ethiopia to visit family, “enjoy the vibrant social life” of cities like Mekelle, or look for work.
  • The refugee registration process in the Tigray region is ongoing, and a member of Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) says that the refugee status of those who have already applied successfully will not change. She says that the internal situation in Eritrea “is still the same”.
  • Milena Belloni, a researcher on Eritrean refugees, says that people from Eritrea come to Ethiopia “with dreams, desires and aspirations”, and should not be portrayed only as victims.
  • A UNHCR worker who spoke to DW said that there was “nothing unusual” about refugees continuing to flow from Eritrea to Ethiopia while the countries were at peace.

Ezega: Peace Deal Strengthened Isaias Afwerki – 06 January

  • Ezega News publishes an analysis by journalist Solomon O, who says that “despite the optimistic reports by the media”, the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has served to reinforce the position of President Isaias.
  • Solomon writes that “Eritrea enjoys the limelight in the global space once again” but “not much” has changed internally since the peace deal was struck, while Isaias’ “repressive tactics continue” despite diplomatic engagements with regional partners.
  • Global and regional powers such as China, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are showing increased interest in Eritrea because of the country’s strategic location, leaving Isaias in an “advantageous position” to benefit from the region’s “power plays”.
  • Solomon writes that Isaias’ “dynasty” may also stand to benefit from his strengthened position, and that his eldest son Abraham has recently begun to accompany him on official engagements, including as part of a delegation that visited Saudi Arabia.
  • Solomon concludes: “It is likely his leadership style won’t change anytime soon because he has secured regional and global allies who turn a blind eye on the state of the country. The world is not doing Eritreans a favour by overlooking the regime’s human rights violations and a crackdown on dissenting voices while others languish in jail.”

Africa News: Ethiopia-Eritrea officially open border along Tigray region – 07 January

  • Africa News reports on the official opening of the Omhager-Humera border crossing point between Eritrea and Ethiopia on Monday 7 January.
  • The opening ceremony was presided over by PM Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias. Debretsion Ghebremicheal, President of the Tigray regional state, also attended.
  • Other prominent media outlets such as the Daily Mail and Arab News reported on the new border opening.
  • In late December, Reuters reported that Eritrea had unilaterally blocked entry for Ethiopians at the Rama and Zalambessa crossing points.

The Globe and Mail: The Bicycle Horn of Africa: How cycling became a part of Eritrea’s national identity – 07 January

  • Canada’s The Globe and Mail publishes a feature by Geoffrey York, the paper’s Africa Bureau Chief, on Eritrea’s love of cycling, as Asmara hosted the inaugural Africa Cup last November.
  • York writes that the prominence of cycling in Eritrea – and Eritreans’ dominance of the sport in Africa – is a result of the influences of Italian colonialism, while the country’s mountainous terrain and dry climate create advantageous endurance training conditions, helping local cyclists to excel at the sport.
  • Damr Gebretinsae, an official in Eritrea’s national cycling federation, says that cycling “has become a cultural space where people meet to talk. It has become a part of city life.”
  • The peace agreement with Ethiopia has opened Eritrea’s borders with its neighbour, and allowed greater connections and competition between two of the powerhouses of African cycling. Jock Boyer, an American cycling coach and former Tour de France racer who works with Eritreans on his Africa Rising team, said: “It’s going to create a huge influx of riders and racers, you’re going to see a lot more cyclists from Eritrea and Ethiopia over the next few years.”
  • Boyer also voiced concerns that Eritrea has been “one of the biggest sources of migrants to Europe”, explaining that obtaining visas for the Eritrean cyclists to compete abroad is “an unbelievably tough job”.

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