Martin Plaut posted: " SAMUEL GETACHEW, KOMBOLCHA, ETHIOPIA, SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL After 20 months of civil war, the damage to Ethiopia’s once-soaring economy is visible across the country. At a stalled railway project, homeless war victims have taken possession" Martin Plaut




After 20 months of civil war, the damage to Ethiopia’s once-soaring economy is visible across the country. At a stalled railway project, homeless war victims have taken possession of the empty construction site. At a newly opened industrial park, buildings have been unofficially converted into a prison and a warehouse for emergency food rations.

When Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as Prime Minister in 2018, there were hopes that one of Africa’s most populous and strategically important countries could be transformed. Many Ethiopians believed he would end the traditional narrative of an aid-dependent nation.

The energetic young leader promised to unlock the impoverished economy and liberalize state-dominated sectors such as banking, aviation and telecommunications. But today, Ethiopia’s economy is in tatters. Reform momentum has eroded, the national currency has weakened, inflation is at a near-record high – almost 40 per cent – and foreign investment has slowed. The International Monetary Fund is warning of more trouble ahead, with GDP growth projected to fall from 6.3 per cent last year to 3.8 per cent this year, the lowest in almost two decades.

The declining growth in the country of 115 million people is a result of “the conflict in Northern Ethiopia, lower agriculture production, a sharp fall in donor financing and intensifying foreign exchange shortages, drought, and spillovers from the war in Ukraine,” IMF deputy division chief Sonali Jain-Chandra said in a statement at the end of her visit to Ethiopia last month.

Despite the slumping economy, Mr. Abiy has continued to pump billions of dollars into his military budget this year. Higher spending, combined with a sharp drop in tax revenue during the war, is causing the budget deficit to balloon, the IMF said.

The military spending, meanwhile, has sustained a cycle of destruction and violence that only worsens Ethiopia’s economic woes. As many as 500,000 people have died as a result of the war in the Tigray region, in Northern Ethiopia, researchers estimate. New outbreaks of violence and mass killings continue to emerge in other regions, including Oromia and Gambella in recent weeks.

Late last year, Tigrayan rebels captured and looted a construction site for a 390-kilometre-long railway in Northern Ethiopia, destroying hundreds of trucks, bulldozers and excavators in the town of Kombolcha.

The US$1.7-billion project was considered crucial for the landlocked country, connecting the north to a major railway between Addis Ababa and the Red Sea port of Djibouti. Turkish multinational Yapi Merkezi had almost completed the seven-year construction project at the time of the attack, which brought it all to a halt and threw thousands out of work.

The construction site has now become a makeshift camp for hundreds of people displaced by the war.

The government still hopes to revive the project. “We are in discussion with the company and we still see the project as a priority,” Hilina Belachew, the chief executive of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, told The Globe and Mail.

Last year, Mr. Abiy cut a red ribbon to open a 50-hectare industrial park in the city of Semera, in the Afar region. He said it would attract textile investment and become “a catalyst for accelerated trade along a key import-export corridor.” But today, after war swept through much of Afar, the industrial park is mainly used to store humanitarian food supplies for war victims. It is also used as a prison for Tigrayan detainees, local residents told The Globe.

The war has also cost Ethiopia its membership in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a U.S. program that provides duty-free trade benefits in key industries. U.S. President Joe Biden suspended Ethiopia from the program in December, citing “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” since the war began.

The suspension has led to tens of thousands of job losses in Ethiopian textile factories. Best Garment, an Indian company, is one of many suffering the consequences. It announced last month that it will lay off more than 3,000 employees because of the AGOA decision.

Mr. Abiy has tried to push ahead with his privatization plan, but the war has dampened investor interest. When his government offered investors a chance last year to bid for a licence in the previously closed-off telecommunications sector, only two companies submitted formal bids.

A consortium led by Kenyan-based Safaricom was the eventual winner, with an US$850-million bid. After announcing plans to launch its service in April, it has repeatedly pushed back the start date. The continuing violence in several regions is expected to hamper its ability to operate nationally.

Shortages of foreign currency, which curtail the import of raw materials, are another major obstacle to investment in Ethiopia. One of the country’s biggest bottling companies, MOHA Soft Drinks Industry, has reportedly halted production in Ethiopia because of such shortages.

With a report from Geoffrey York in Johannesburg

Source: Sunday Mirror

Refugee from Eritrea, now 29, tells of his fear he will end up being sent to Rwanda for a second time under UK deportation scheme, years after he says Israel sent him there ‘to get rid of us’

Kidane paid smugglers to help him travel by dinghy from Calais to the UK (
Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Kidane was 18 when he fled his home country of Eritrea to seek asylum in Israel. But, in a cruel scheme which experts say inspired the UK’s deportation plan, he was flown to Rwanda with the promise of a new life.

Kidane – not his real name – crossed Africa and Europe to get here but could now be sent back to Rwanda.

Speaking from his asylum centre in Cardiff, Kidane, 29, said: “To be deported to Rwanda would be a huge threat to my life. I’d do the whole journey again and I might not survive it again. We’ve been treated like cattle, not humans. The UK wants to get rid of all refugees and asylum seekers.”

Kidane is one of more than 60,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees who fled dictatorship and war in their homelands to start a new life in Israel.

In 2016, after months in a desert prison camp, he was told he would be deported back to Eritrea or ­imprisoned indefinitely unless he went to Rwanda. He was flown to Rwandan capital Kigali via Turkey with a $3,500 settlement grant.

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Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has condemned the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Israeli officials said he could apply for asylum in Rwanda, where he could get a job and be protected.

He says: “When we arrived in Kigali, we had our permits and visas taken away before being sent to a hotel surrounded by security.

“We stayed there for three weeks not knowing what was happening, when immigration officers arrived to take us over the border to Uganda. We had to pay them $150 for the trip and a further $150 to get to Kampala.

“The Israeli government knew what they were doing and used this as a way to get rid of us – and that is exactly what the UK government is doing.”

Accommodation in Kigali, Rwanda, where migrants from Britain are expected to be taken Image: REUTERS)

From Uganda, Kidane fled to South Sudan, where militiamen attacked his convoy, killing four of his friends. He was then held in a South Sudanese jail, where he narrowly avoided being shot as civil war raged around him.

Kidane decided to bribe his way out after seeing those who couldn’t pay being killed, beaten and raped. From Libya, he went by boat to Italy, spent four years in Germany, then paid smugglers to take him in a dinghy from Calais to the UK to try to reach his brother – his only family in Europe.

Kidane said our Rwanda policy will not deter migrants like him “who are so full of hopelessness”.

Professor Galia Sabar, of Tel Aviv University, who worked with Eritrean refugees like Kidane, called it “cruel, dangerous and truly racist”. “It is based on ignorance,” she said. “You cannot justify it. This policy is like sending this man to his death. I see no difference between Israel’s policy and the UK’s.”

A view of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, which is expected to take asylum seekers from the UK 


Israel axed its scheme after sending 4,000 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda between 2013 and 2018. Martin Plaut, of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, said: “The way Israeli refugees were treated by Rwanda indicates it is a completely unsuitable place to send refugees.

“The authorities simply trade people across the border. The UK’s scheme will mean they have to do the whole journey again, through smugglers, human trafficking, incarceration and potentially a death sentence. It’s a ruthless, vicious cycle.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The disturbing stories show why Israel abandoned this policy. We have said from the beginning the Rwanda deal is unworkable, unethical and extortionately ­expensive. This is more evidence why the Government should ­concentrate on stopping the ­criminal gangs who operate in the Channel instead.”

The Home Office said: “Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers, a thorough assessment is undertaken to ensure no one would be transferred there if it was not safe.”

Mr. Conny Reuter,

Global Coordinator, Progressive Alliance                                                                  

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                                                                                                       06.22.2022

Dear Mr. Reuter,

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) to congratulate the Progressive Alliance on convening its in-person post-Covid-19 conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on June 25-26, 2022. I would also like to express our party’s solidarity and cooperation with members of the Progressive Alliance and extend our wishes for the success of this conference.

We highly regret that we won’t be able to attend this important event and we recognize we’ll miss the opportunity to physically meet esteemed friends from various countries attending it.  As you know, we in the EPDP actively attended and greatly benefited from several eventful PA conferences in Stockholm, Rotterdam, Brussels, Berlin and a few others since our founding Leipzig conference in the spring of 2013.

 With a strong belief in peace, democracy and rule of law, we in EPDP have the confidence that the conference will discuss the means to overcome the current challenges of peace and democracy including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Horn of Africa and other war-torn societies in different corners of the world today. It is also the expectation of all peace-loving peoples to see the conference adopt ways and means to attain sustainable growth and development, tackle despotic regimes, and to that end ensure enhanced unity of progressive forces internationally.

EPDP, as an Eritrean party in exile, is playing a very substantial role in the Eritrean people’s struggle for freedom from the rogue regime in Eritrea that also is notoriously known for destabilizing the neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa. Once again, I congratulate you for this special conference that is taking place for the first time after the lockouts for the pandemic.

I wish you a successful conference. We will continue to work together.


Tesfai Woldemichael (Degiga)

EPDP Chairman

Eritrea Hub
Jun 22

Eighteen Eritrean mutineers interned in a refugee camp in Afar

Source: Africa Intelligence

With the agreement of the Eritrean general staff, 18 of the 52 soldiers who had fled from Eritrea to Ethiopia were transferred to the Asaita refugee camp. 

Issue dated 22/06/2022

On 16 June, 18 mutineers from the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) were presented to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) in Semera, the capital of the Afar region. They were transferred to Asaita refugee camp, 55km south-east of Semera.

The 18 were part of a group of 52 soldiers involved in a mutiny at the end of May in the 67th EDF division based in Badda, Eritrea, 25km from the Ethiopian region of Tigray, and less than 15km from the border with the Ethiopian Afar regional state (ARS). They had crossed the border with the ARS and taken up position at Badda Admurug in Dallol district. The soldiers had taken up arms and mutinied as a result of Eritrean military leaders' decision to prohibit Muslim soldiers from observing prayer.

Karikare, a favoured interlocutor

Eritrean Afar elders were sent to attempt to talk with them, and to try to make them reconsider their decision, but this move was in vain. On 2 June, Asmara finally sent Major General Houmed Mohamed Ahmed, known as "Karikare", himself an Afar, accompanied by two officers to the mutineers. The latter reportedly promised the soldiers that the issue of prayer would be reviewed and that no proceedings would be taken against the mutinous soldiers. Thirty-four of them agreed to return to Eritrea.

The remaining 18 were apprehended, with Karikare's agreement, by local militas and taken to Semera. Karikare, the highest-ranking Afar in the Eritrean security organisation, is the privileged interlocutor of the LRA authorities in Semera, and makes frequent trips to the region (AI, 08/04/22).



Discussions are due to get under way in Brussels today (Monday) which could shape the relations between the EU and the Horn of Africa for years.

Below, Human Rights Watch’s Laetitia Bader lays out what is at stake. The meeting comes after a visit to Eritrea by EU representatives at a higher level than has taken place for years.

It would appear that the EU is attempting a “reset” after abandoning its disastrous road building programme that used National Service conscripts in what amounted to slave labour. The EU promised to end the programme in September 2020.

EU and UK Ambassadors inspect Ethiopia-Eritrea Road, 2020

Today’s Brussels talks have got Ethiopia worried and they mobilised their diaspora, who have appealed to the EU not to increase sanctions against the Addis government.

Twelve Ethiopian Organizations wrote a letter to the European Parliament  objecting to draft resolution (2021/2206 INI). [See below] They rejected the use of “Western Tigray” arguing that it is a Tigrayan term. And they are particularly worried about suggestions that there should be “an urgent deployment of an AU-led international peacekeeping force with a robust civilian protection mandate to Western Tigray,” to help end the war.

Clearly there are major sensitivities for all concerned, but the EU has been silent on the war in Tigray for far too long. Brussels needs to come up with a robust proposal that will support the AU/Kenyan mediation efforts to bring this tragic conflict to an end.  

EU Should Press Ethiopia for Tangible Rights Progress

Today’s Brussels talks have got Ethiopia worried and they mobilised their diaspora, who have appealed to the EU not to increase sanctions against the Addis government.

Twelve Ethiopian Organizations wrote a letter to the European Parliament  objecting to draft resolution (2021/2206 INI). [See below] They rejected the use of “Western Tigray” arguing that it is a Tigrayan term. And they are particularly worried about suggestions that there should be “an urgent deployment of an AU-led international peacekeeping force with a robust civilian protection mandate to Western Tigray,” to help end the war.

Clearly there are major sensitivities for all concerned, but the EU has been silent on the war in Tigray for far too long. Brussels needs to come up with a robust proposal that will support the AU/Kenyan mediation efforts to bring this tragic conflict to an end.  

Government Should Ensure Access to Aid; End Arbitrary Detentions

Laetitia Bader

Laetitia Bader

Tigray crisisEthiopians wait for food distribution in a small town north of Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, May 7, 2021. © 2021 AP Photo/Ben Curtis © 2021 AP Photo/Ben Curtis

The future of European Union engagement in Ethiopia will be high on the agenda of EU foreign ministers gathering next Monday in Brussels. This meeting takes place 19 months into an armed conflict originating in the northern Tigray region that has been devastating for the civilian population.

The Ethiopian government in February lifted a state of emergency used to arbitrarily arrest thousands of Tigrayans, and since April has permitted greater numbers of aid convoys to enter Tigray. Still, abuses and suffering remain rife in northern Ethiopia. For nearly a year, the government has maintained an effective siege of Tigray, limiting food, fuel, and other critical supplies while also shutting off communications, banking, and electricity. While more aid has been allowed in, the amount remains far less than the population’s needs. The lack of drug supplies and services in particular means that people with chronic illnesses, along with survivors of abuses, including wartime sexual violence, do not have essential care.

Human Rights Watch in April released a report with Amnesty International documenting an ethnic cleansing campaign against Tigrayans by officials and security forces from the neighboring Amhara region. While the authorities restrict access to rights monitors and aid agencies, hundreds and perhaps thousands of Tigrayans are arbitrarily detained there in life-threatening conditions.

In a May 26 letter to the EU and member states, Human Rights Watch called for clear human rights benchmarks to underpin relations with the Ethiopian government. These include ending mass arbitrary detentions and allowing independent monitors’ access to detainees, the restoration of basic services, and unhindered and safe humanitarian access throughout conflict-affected areas.

There has been no meaningful accountability for war crimes and other serious abuses committed in Amhara, Tigray, and neighboring Afar regions. Government investigative processes and outcomes lack transparency, and international investigations continue to be hampered.

Federal authorities have for years conducted mass arrests and prolonged arbitrary detentions in Oromia, and have more recently detained thousands in Amhara.

For EU pressure to carry weight, the focus needs to be on ending harm to civilians. Diplomatic engagement and access with Ethiopia’s government should not be an end in itself, but a tool to achieve tangible progress in protecting civilians countrywide.

As the world watches the EU take robust measures against those responsible for war crimes elsewhere in the world, it shouldn’t settle for less in the Horn of Africa.


Jun 19

Source: UN News

UN Eritrea

A young man in Eritrea works with wood to make furniture.

A young man in Eritrea works with wood to make furniture.

Listen to the testimony of the UN Special Rapporteur Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker here
June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

Human rights

The giffa, or raids for the purpose of military conscription, have intensified "dramatically" throughout Eritrea, especially following the conflict in the Ethiopian region of Tigray, denounced Monday in Geneva an independent expert from the UN.

“Thousands of conscripts have been forced into the Tigray conflict, with men, women and children taken and sent to fight on the front lines,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker on the first day of the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Previously documented patterns of child recruitment by Eritrean forces have worsened, with witnesses referring to "roundups of children as young as 14".

Refugees who were abducted from Hitsats and Shimelba camps in Ethiopia in late 2020 have also been detained, punished and conscripted. Over the past year, the UN independent expert says he heard from dozens of Eritreans whose relatives had been forced to fight in Tigray. Their families have received no official information about their fate or whereabouts, and live in fear that they will never return.

Officially, military service is limited to 18 months. But the power in place in Asmara believes that it must be able to count on its population in the event of war.

Evading military service is synonymous with degrading imprisonment

“Since taking office in November 2020, I have not received any evidence of progress in the human rights situation in Eritrea. In fact, I have observed a deterioration in several areas,” he said, noting that Asmara's involvement in the armed conflict in Ethiopia has highlighted the continuing human rights violations.

These abuses are linked to the indefinite national/military service system, and have further aggravated the already dire internal human rights situation in Eritrea.

Those who attempt to evade military service are imprisoned in "inhumane and degrading conditions for indefinite periods". Authorities also punish defaulters by proxy, for example by imprisoning a parent or spouse in order to force them to surrender themselves. "I also received information about conscripts who were killed while trying to escape from Tigray or from military training centers in Eritrea," Babiker said.

Under these conditions, the “deplorable” human rights situation in Eritrea continued to drive thousands of people to flee. At the same time, Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers face increasingly restrictive asylum and migration policies in both transit and destination countries.

The Challenge of Humanitarian Access in Ethiopia's Tigray Region

"Eritrean asylum seekers are still detained, turned back and are denied access to the asylum procedure in many countries", regretted the UN expert, recalling that Eritrean asylum seekers are faced with violations and untold hardship in their search for safety. In this regard, he considers that the situation of unaccompanied children is particularly alarming.

On the fate of these Eritrean refugees, he was particularly concerned about the situation of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, where thousands of them are "still in great danger". "I continue to receive reports of Eritrean refugees being killed in attacks, as well as preventable causes related to lack of access to food, water and medicine in Tigray," Babiker said. .

For the Special Rapporteur, this is an urgent issue that requires immediate action to protect refugees and other vulnerable populations. While he commended the efforts made by the Ethiopian Refugee and Returnee Service and UNHCR to register and assist Eritrean refugees, he expressed concern about the difficulties faced by humanitarian actors in operating in the Tigray region.

"The role played by the Eritrean forces, which for several months has prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid to refugees and other populations in need in Tigray, is very worrying", detailed the Special Rapporteur.


The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what are called the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that deal either with country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.



The Eritrean government has criticised the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed in a series of Tweets.

The Eritrean authorities have used TesfaNews for this purpose - one of the media outlets the government controls. The Tweets are reproduced below.

"Since the Tweets are not officially from the government, they are deniable, but no-one who knows Eritrea, and the vice-like grip the regime maintains over its media, will fail to see through this.

Tigray separatist rebels leader (TPLF) vows to maintain and even strengthen its armed forces and will never negotiate about "disarmament" under any circumstances with the ??central gov't. Hoping to attain "peace" in Northern Ethiopia through "negotiation", without first achieving military superiority over the Tigray rebelious groups (i.e weakening them militarily) will be PM Abiy's next biggest mistake.

"Disarmament and/or Demilitarizing TPLF/TDF are non-negotiable in our current or future talks with the  Ethiopian Federal gov't as our military strength is our only security." - TPLF Chairman, Debretsion. (Source: Tigray TV)

PM Abiy's gov't will soon transfer the 12 billion birr annual Tigray budget to TPLF and there is no guarantee that the rebel group will not misuse a chunk of the money to arm itself further."

These remarks are the strongest criticism yet of PM Abiy and an indication of the split that appears to be widening between Asmara and Addis.

The TesfaNews Tweets were followed by a quote Tigray's Debretsion saying that Tigray had a direct contact with the US State Department and this comment: "(FYI) Unconfirmed reports indicates that the town of Kobo today witnessed mobilization of thousands of Western Amhara Fano fighters to fend off the encroachment of their territories by the criminal TPLF separatist group."

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