Deutsche Welle: Residents of Badme voice concern over handover to Eritrea  (VIDEO) – 04 February

  • Maria Gerth, journalist for Deutsche Welle, reports on the concerns of residents of Badme – many of them veterans of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea – that the town will soon officially become Eritrean.
  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has promised to respect a 2002 boundary demarcation ruling which found the border town lies within Eritrea.
  • Ms Gerth reports that many people in Badme were confident they would benefit from Abiy’s reforms, but now feel the agreement is being imposed upon them. Tilahun Gebremedhin, the town mayor, is determined to move the border along the Mareb River about 20 kilometres to the North, and says Ethiopians and Eritreans living in the area agree on this. He wants discussions at a grassroots level. He says: “The prime minister alone cannot decide the border issue. […] the people should have the power to do that”.
  • Yigsaw Gebre, a resident who grew up in Badme, says: “We the people don’t want to fight the Eritreans, but the peace process should be organised in a fair way, and the people should believe in it. If Badme is given away, there can be no continuous peace.”
  • Ms Gerth says: “So far there has been no indication that the physical location of the crossing point will change, or that it will be opened. For the people of Badme the border is still just a few miles to the North, as it has always been.”

MSN News: ‘We felt we were reborn.’ Thousands of Eritrean refugees quietly welcomed to Canada – 02 February

  • Writing in the Toronto Star – reproduced by MSN News, Nicholas Keung reports that federal officials have “quietly achieved another immigration feat” and “eliminated one of the country’s worst refugee resettlement backlogs” – ushering in 12,000 Eritreans to begin new lives in Canada.
  • Ottawa began tackling the backlog in 2015, when many Eritreans had already been languishing for years in refugee camps in Sudan – often subject to violence. Canada’s visa office in Cairo had been responsible for processing immigration applications from Sudan, but with just two Canadian officers at the site, progress was slow. As a result,  staff at the visa office in Rome — with five Canadian officers and eight local staff — reached out in 2015 and offered to assist. It was this collaboration that saw the backlog resolved.
  • Ed Cashman, consul at the Canadian embassy between 2015 and 2018, said: “These Eritreans had been in camps in Sudan all this time just waiting for a decision (from Canada), some for 10 years. It’s gratifying to see the faces of these people who got their notifications and were finally accepted. Their lives are changed forever in a positive way.”
  • Brian Dyck, national migration and resettlement co-ordinator at Winnipeg’s Mennonite Central Committee, said that he attributed the elimination of the backlog to the Justin Trudeau government’s resolve to let in more privately sponsored refugees – which has almost doubled to 18,000 over the last three years from 9,350 in 2015.

Satenaw News: The Dawn of a New Era in the Horn of Africa – 01 February

  • Satenaw, an Ethiopian news website, publishes an opinion piece by Dr. Debretsion, who discusses the recent developments in Eritrea.
  • He says: “The Horn of Africa (HOA) is being transformed from a hapless theater of endless devastating wars into a new positive model of regional conflict-resolution and alliance building.”
  • “The sustainability of this progress lies in the democratic transformation within the involved states and the continued support of the international community”, he continued.
  • Debretsion says that the changes are not attributable to global forces, rather, “the main factor has been a nascent surge for peace and cooperation which has now found articulation and design in the actions of their leaders.”
  • Debretsion acknowledges that “President Isaias is a controversial figure”. “For some Eritreans he is a hero… for some Eritreans he is a ruthless dictator who has subverted their aspirations for democracy”. He asks, “Will the fortress Eritrean state be transformed into a flourishing democratic state? Will president Isaias use the tremendous political capital he has gained to lead the democratic transformation?”
  • He concludes: “The Eritrean government should facilitate local and regional conferences of the people. It should welcome Eritreans in the diaspora to participate, regardless of their political affiliations”.

Face2Face Africa: Sudan makes amends with Eritrea by opening border after a year of tensions – 01 February

  • Face2Face Africa reports that Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir is “on the lookout for allies and supporters from the region” as protest against his government continues in parts of the country.
  • At least 30 people have been killed in protests calling for the resignation of the leader who has been in power since 1989. The demonstrations started in December 2018 and called for reforms over rising prices.
  • After opening the border with Eritrea, Al Bashir has also “deployed 50,000 members of the Rapid Support Forces and declared the state of emergency in Kassala, a town near the border with Eritrea, after reports of activities by rebels backed by Asmara.”
  • “I announce here, from Kassala, that we are opening the border with Eritrea because they are our brothers and our people. Politics will not divide us,” Al Bashir said.
  • The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had announced in September 2018 a bid to help the two countries reconcile, following in the steps between Ethiopia and Eritrea and Ethiopia and Somalia reconciliation.

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