In 1979, The Eritrea Relief Association in the UK (ERA-UK) was introduced to Lord Avebury by Mary Dines, the former Secretary General of the charity War on Want. At that time, War on Want played a significant role in providing education material and other needs to Eritrean children and mothers in areas liberated by Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF). Lord Avebury actively supported Mary Dines’ work in Eritrea through raising awareness amongst the British public
During this time, civilians were internally displaced people (IDPs), running away from areas and villages which were bombed by the Ethiopian Air Force and shelled by artillery. Lord Avebury visited the liberated areas in Eritrea, which were known as the “field”, and saw the amazing network of underground schools and hospitals. He spoke highly of the participation of women in all parts of society. A third of all the combatants during the liberation were women and the slogan at the time was “women’s emancipation anticipation through participation!”. He made an effort to meet and speak with various women from those who worked in garages to shoe makers. This inspired him to support the struggle for liberation.
Lord Avebury deeply cared for Eritrea and the people of Eritrea. On behalf of myself and the people of Eritrea he loves, my condolences to his family.
Ex- Secretary of ERA-UK
UK Parliament gets serious about scrutinising Eritrean regime
This week Eritrea Focus was privileged to attend the inaugural meeting of the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea – the first of its kind in the UK Parliament. The cross party group of parliamentarians came together under the welcome aim of exposing human rights abuses in Eritrea and examining the brutal Isaias regime.
Commenting on the establishment of the new APPG, the newly elected Chair of the APPG, Matthew Pennycook MP said, “Eritrea is a central battleground in the global struggle for human rights. Our own national interest, as well as our credentials as a bastion of human rights, demand that we give the victims of the Afwerki regime not only our solidarity but also clear and unequivocal support to alleviate the very real suffering they face. The new APPG will provide a valuable forum for raising awareness about the human rights abuses taking place in Eritrea and for debate about how the situation in the country can be improved”.
Eritreans the world over will be heartened – as Eritrea Focus was – to read these words.
As we all know, this group could hardly be more timely. News reports in just the last month telling us that UNHCR estimates that 5000 Eritreans flee the country every month; that Eritreans currently making up the largest nationality of asylum seekers in the UK; that Eritrean children are the largest nationality among unaccompanied asylum seeking minors; that the regime says there will be no end to Eritrean men and women serving indefinite military service; and, right now, the EU-Turkey asylum deal preparing to freeze Eritreans out of Europe and their right to claim asylum from the murderous regime.
Habte Hagos, a founding member of Eritrea Focus, said “this group gives the long suffering Eritrean people a voice. It will expose the injustice being perpetrated by the Isaias regime on its own people. Eritrea today is ruled by fear with persistent intimidation by the regime and its cliques against peaceful opponents both at home and abroad.”
Joining Matthew Pennycook MP in the new group, four Parliamentarians were elected Vice Chairs, specifically Ann Clwyd MP, Patrick Grady MP, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, and Jeremy Lefroy MP. Lord Alton of Liverpool and Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, also attended the triumphant first meeting.
Following our last newsletter, there have been great developments in the European Parliament
This week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Eritrea. The European Parliament has denounced the government of Eritrea and has emphasised the human rights abuses that are taking place in the country which have been documented by international organisations such as Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Commission of Inquiry. The resolution also reaffirms the need for conditionality and accountability on the European Development Fund to Eritrea.
We applaud the Members of the European Parliament who have upheld the two beacons of democracy: transparency and legitimacy
Read in full: European Parliament resolution on the situation in Eritrea (2016/2599(RSP))
Eritrea in the news
• The Guardian – Eritrean who fled to UK wins award for helping other refugees theguardian.com/eritrean-woman-who-fled-to-uk-wins-award
• Reuters – Eritrea looks to build mining sector reuters.com/eritrea-mining
• Reuters – Eritrea won’t shorten national service despite migration fears reuters.com/eritrea-national-serivce
• The Guardian – How Eritrea is turning to Dutch courts to silence its critics guardian.com/how-eritrea-is-turning-to-dutch-courts-to-silence-its-critics
• Al Jazeera – Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia aljazeera.com/inpictures/eritrean-refugees-ethiopia
Eritrea Focus is an association of Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs), human rights organisations, exile and refugee groups and individuals concerned with the gross abuse of human rights in Eritrea.