New locust threat to Eritrea

Saturday, 10 October 2020 23:25 Written by

OCTOBER 10, 2020  NEWS

Widespread breeding in Red Sea coastal areas of Eritrea and Sudan will substantially increase infestations in Eritrea in particular.

Source: Reliefweb

East Africa – Desert Locust Crisis, Fact Sheet #7, Fiscal Year (FY) 2020

Originally published

9 Oct 2020


 FAO expects desert locust infestations to persist across Ethiopia and Somalia through at least March 2021.

 Yemen remains a reservoir for desert locust breeding, posing a continued threat to the Horn of Africa region.

 Widespread breeding in Red Sea coastal areas of Eritrea and Sudan will substantially increase infestations in Eritrea in particular.

 Since January, control operations have prevented 1.5 million MT of crop loss at harvest time, safeguarding the food security of 9.9 million people and protecting grazing areas for the livestock of 687,000 households.


Rains Support September Desert Locust Breeding in Much of East Africa

Desert locust infestations continue to threaten food security and livelihoods in northeastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia, where heavy rains have intensified breeding in recent weeks, causing increased bands of hoppers—immature, wingless locusts—and immature swarms to form, FAO reports. Similarly, unusually heavy rainfall has contributed to widespread breeding in Red Sea coastal areas of Eritrea and Sudan, with FAO expecting infestations in Eritrea to increase substantially in October.

Despite above-average rainfall in most East African countries in recent months, below-average rains are forecast for much of the Horn of Africa region between October and December, possibly reducing vegetation availability for locusts and limiting new swarm formation, according to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’s Climate Predictions and Applications Center. However, FAO and IGAD expect desert locust infestations to continue threatening crop production and pasture regeneration significantly in most affected areas of Ethiopia and Somalia through at least March 2021.
Additionally, immature swarms in northeastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia—possibly supplemented by additional swarms from Yemen—will likely begin moving south toward Kenya as regional winds shift in October. Swarms are likely to migrate to Ethiopia’s Ogaden Desert and central Somalia in the coming weeks, potentially reaching northern Kenya—where only a few residual swarms remained as of September 30—by late October; continued surveillance will remain critical for detecting additional breeding and containing any new infestations in the coming months.


In addition to demanding the immediate release of Dawit and other political prisoners, the Parliament importantly takes these measures:

  • Calls on the Commission to ascertain whether the conditionality of EU aid is respected and to ensure that no financing for projects in Eritrea, particularly those that are carried out using national service labour, benefits the Eritrean Government; deplores, in this regard, the fact that the Commission continues to finance the ‘Roads Project’, and calls on it to strictly respond to the needs of the Eritrean people for development, democracy, human rights, good governance, security and freedom of speech, press and assembly, and to evaluate tangible outcomes regarding human rights that have resulted from the EU-Eritrea strategy and the so-called ‘dual track approach’
  • Condemns the use by the Eritrean Government of the extraterritorial ‘diaspora tax’; urges the government to respect freedom of movement and to end the ‘guilt-by-association’ policies that target the family members of those who evade national service, seek to flee Eritrea or fail to pay the 2 % income tax imposed by the government on Eritrean expatriates, including EU citizens;

European Parliament resolution on Eritrea, notably the case of Dawit Isaak

Source: European Parliament


The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on Eritrea, in particular that of 6 July 2017[1],

– having regard to the report of 11 May 2020 of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea,

– having regard to the statement of 30 June 2020 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, delivered at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council,

– having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolutions on the situation of human rights in Eritrea,

– having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2444 of 14 November 2018, terminating with immediate effect all UN sanctions against Eritrea (arms embargo, asset freezes and travel bans),

– having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1944 of 10 December 2018 repealing Decision 2010/127/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Eritrea[2],

– having regard to Case 428/12 (2012) filed to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on behalf of Dawit Isaak and other political prisoners,

– having regard to the Final Declaration of the 66th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 22 May 2017,

– having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

– having regard to the Constitution of Eritrea, adopted in 1997, which guarantees civil liberties, including freedom of religion,

– having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

– having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

– having regard to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (the Cotonou Agreement)[3], as revised in 2005 and 2010, to which Eritrea is a signatory,

– having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Dawit Isaak, a dual citizen of Eritrea and Sweden, and therefore a citizen of the European Union, a journalist and co-owner of Eritrea’s first independent newspaper, the widely distributed Setit, was arrested by the Eritrean authorities on 23 September 2001, along with 21 other persons; whereas the Eritrean Government accuses Dawit Isaak of being a ‘traitor’, although he has never been charged or brought to trial; whereas Dawit Isaak had returned from Sweden following Eritrea’s independence in 1992 to assist with the solidification of the country’s fledgling democracy;

B. whereas the imprisonments occurred after the publishing of an open letter condemning the regime and calling on President Isaias Afwerki to make democratic reforms; whereas on the day of the arrests, the government announced a ban on all independent media; whereas the detainees have not been charged with a crime;

C. whereas Dawit Isaak was released from custody on 19 November 2005 after significant interventions on his behalf by the Government of Sweden, among others; whereas he was re-arrested two days later while on his way to hospital, with the Eritrean authorities claiming that he had only been temporarily released in order to undergo medical treatment; whereas since then, Dawit Isaak has been held incommunicado by the Eritrean authorities, who refuse to disclose his exact location or details of his health and well-being;

D. whereas in December 2008, there were unconfirmed reports that Dawit Isaak was transferred to a maximum security prison in Embatkala, and that shortly after, on 11 January 2009, he was admitted to an air force hospital in Asmara, believed to be seriously ill; whereas the nature and extent of his illness remain unknown and the Government of Eritrea refuses to confirm his hospitalisation;

E. whereas Dawit Isaak’s family, including his three children, have faced huge distress and uncertainty since his disappearance, having little knowledge of their loved one’s well-being, whereabouts or future prospects; whereas Dawit Isaak’s daughter, Betlehem Isaak, continues to advocate for her father’s release; whereas Betlehem Isaak confirmed in 2020 that her father was alive;

F. whereas the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled that journalists arrested in Eritrea in September 2001, including Dawit Isaak, were being held in arbitrary and unlawful detention, and urged the Eritrean authorities to release them or at least to hold a fair trial;

G. whereas the situation in Eritrea’s overcrowded and unsanitary detention centres amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment; whereas these conditions put detainees at increased risk of transmission of COVID-19; whereas access to healthcare, food and sanitation is extremely limited or lacking entirely, leaving detainees reliant on visitors for basic supplies; whereas prison lockdowns aimed at combating the pandemic have contributed to further malnutrition and corresponding mental and physical ailments; whereas many more prisoners are being held in shipping containers, where they are subjected to extremely harsh temperature conditions;

H. whereas, since gaining independence, Eritrea under Isaias Afwerki has systematically jailed thousands of people for their political views or their work as journalists, or for practising their religion; whereas enforced disappearances take place on a structural basis; whereas detainees are typically subjected to arbitrary and unlawful arrests and detentions without charge and are denied access to lawyers or family visits;

I. whereas Eritrea is ranked 182nd out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index for 2019, according to the 2019 Human Development Report of the UN Development Programme; whereas the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks Eritrea 178th out of 180 in 2020; whereas the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Eritrea the world’s most censored country in 2019;

J. whereas the report of the UN Commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, published on 9 May 2016, noted that crimes against humanity had been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in detention centres, military training camps and other places across the country over the past 25 years;

K. whereas according to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea of 16 May 2019, ‘the positive momentum for peace and security in the region has raised expectations in Eritrea and in the international community that the Government of Eritrea will implement political and institutional reforms’, however, ‘the Eritrean authorities have not yet engaged in a process of domestic reforms and the human rights situation remains unchanged’; whereas the UN Special Rapporteur has been denied access to Eritrea to conduct in-country visits since 2009;

L. whereas in May 2019, the Eritrean authorities carried out a crackdown on non-recognised Christian congregations;

M. whereas the President of Eritrea continues to refuse to hold elections and to implement the country’s constitution, in spite of the fact that it was ratified in 1997 and that Eritrea’s electoral law was ratified in 2002; whereas the interim legislature has not met since 2002 and the judiciary is controlled by the government;

N. whereas recent developments in regional peace and security were expected to lead to the introduction of reforms to national service and to the demobilisation of conscripts in Eritrea; whereas to date, there have been no official announcements of a reduction in the duration of national service or of any demobilisation plans; whereas national service continues to be involuntary in nature and of an open-ended duration; whereas national service places many citizens, including women and girls, in a situation of slavery, where their whole life is under the control of others and where they suffer, inter alia, physical, sexual and verbal abuses and may be forced to work as domestic servants;

O. whereas in July 2018, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed an historic peace agreement ending twenty years of conflict; whereas the July 2018 peace agreement opened new prospects for the country’s socio-economic development, linked with the advancement of regional economic integration in the Horn of Africa;

P. whereas following the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the EU changed its approach towards Eritrea based on ‘principles of engagement’, which had previously allowed neither political dialogue nor EU development cooperation with Eritrea, to the so-called ‘dual track’ approach;

Q. whereas, the EU’s partnership with Eritrea is governed by the Cotonou Agreement, and whereas parties to this agreement are bound to respect and implement its terms, in particular respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

R. whereas despite gross and systematic violations by Eritrea of the essential and fundamental elements of the Cotonou Agreement regarding human rights, the EU never initiated consultations as provided for in Article 96 thereof, despite Parliament’s calls to do so;

S. whereas the EU is a significant donor to Eritrea in terms of development assistance; whereas following the 2018 peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, a new Development Cooperation Strategy for 2019-2020 was agreed upon by the EU and Eritrea, under which the EU allocated EUR 180 million;

T. whereas the autocratic government attempts to control the Eritrean diaspora by means of a 2 % expat income tax and by spying on the diaspora and targeting relatives who remain in Eritrea;

1. Demands that all prisoners of conscience in Eritrea be immediately and unconditionally released, notably EU citizen Dawit Isaak and the other journalists detained since September 2001; demands immediate information regarding Dawit Isaak’s whereabouts and well-being; urges the Eritrean authorities to provide him with access to representatives of the EU, the Member States and Sweden in order to establish his healthcare needs and any other necessary support;

2. Condemns in the strongest terms Eritrea’s systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations; calls on the Eritrean Government to put an end to detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians;

3. Appeals to the African Union, as a partner of the EU with an explicit commitment to the universal values of democracy and human rights, to step up its activity in relation to the regrettable situation in Eritrea and to work together with the EU to secure the release of Dawit Isaak and other political prisoners;

4. Demands that, given the current COVID-19 health crisis, the poor sanitary conditions in Eritrean prisons and the high risk of infection for detainees, adequate food, water, and medical care be promptly provided; expresses concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the situation of famine and malnutrition that exists in parts of the country and is contributing to food shortages;

5. Demands that the Eritrean Government provide proof of life and detailed information on the fate and whereabouts of all those deprived of physical liberty; calls for fair trials for those accused, the immediate and unconditional release of any prisoners not charged with any crimes, and the abolition of torture and other degrading treatment such as restrictions on food, water and medical care; reminds the Eritrean Government of its obligation to address all human rights violations, including by investigating extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances as well as the capital punishment, which should be abolished in line with the recommendations presented in the UN Human Rights Council Annual Report 2020;

6. Deplores the fact that Eritrea provides no space for independent human rights defenders, members of the political opposition or independent journalists; calls, therefore, on the Eritrean Government to open civic space for independent civil society organisations and allow the creation of other political parties in the country; reminds Eritrea of its obligations under ILO conventions, with particular regard to the right of civil society organisations and trade unions to organise, peacefully demonstrate, participate in public affairs and campaign for better workers’ rights;

7. Demands that the Eritrean Government desist from using its citizens as forced labour through indefinite national service and put an end to the compulsory practice of all children undertaking their final year of schooling in a military training camp;

8. Calls on the Commission to ascertain whether the conditionality of EU aid is respected and to ensure that no financing for projects in Eritrea, particularly those that are carried out using national service labour, benefits the Eritrean Government; deplores, in this regard, the fact that the Commission continues to finance the ‘Roads Project’, and calls on it to strictly respond to the needs of the Eritrean people for development, democracy, human rights, good governance, security and freedom of speech, press and assembly, and to evaluate tangible outcomes regarding human rights that have resulted from the EU-Eritrea strategy and the so-called ‘dual track approach’;

9. Calls for the immediate implementation of Eritrea’s 1997 Constitution, which was drafted in full consultation with all stakeholders and civil society and duly adopted;

10. Condemns the use by the Eritrean Government of the extraterritorial ‘diaspora tax’; urges the government to respect freedom of movement and to end the ‘guilt-by-association’ policies that target the family members of those who evade national service, seek to flee Eritrea or fail to pay the 2 % income tax imposed by the government on Eritrean expatriates, including EU citizens;

11. Calls on Eritrea to lift the ban on independent media and to allow the creation of political parties, as a central tool for promoting democracy in the country; calls for human rights organisations to be allowed to freely operate within the country;

12. Demands that the Eritrean authorities put an end to detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders, civil society representatives and innocent civilians; urges Eritrea to fully respect and protect freedom of religion and to stop its ongoing persecutions on the basis of faith;

13. Reiterates its urgent request for a global EU human rights mechanism, the so-called European Magnitsky Act; calls on the Council to adopt this mechanism through a decision relating to the Union’s strategic interests and objectives under Article 22(1) of the Treaty on European Union;

14. Demands that Eritrea fully respect and immediately enact the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and fully uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which prohibit torture;

15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, the President of Eritrea, the UN Human Rights Council, and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

[1] OJ C 334, 19.9.2018, p. 140.

[2] OJ L 314, 11.12.2018, p. 60.

[3] OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.

Assessment Source 

 Posted 28 Sep 2020 Originally published 28 Sep 2020 Origin View original

Executive Summary

How does it feel being displaced in Sudan? What is it like to leave everything behind – home, work, family, friends, culture – and start a new life as a refugee in Sudan?

To answer these questions, there is no one more qualified than the refugees themselves. For this reason, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, operations around the world conduct regular participatory assessments to help enhance the accountability and effectiveness of its work. It has become a well-established foundation for UNHCR’s programmatic and practical work with communities and other stakeholders.

Participatory assessments focus on creating an open dialogue with refugees to hear first-hand accounts of their aspirations, challenges, needs and often suffering. The methodology also focuses on the capacities and ideas that refugees bring to the discussions. The qualitative insights gained through participatory assessments complement macro-level data and protection analysis to help UNHCR adjust and tailor its protection solutions.

For the 2019 participatory assessment in Sudan (see methodology at page 76). UNHCR and over 60 partners sat together with 6,068 refugees representing diverse profiles in 569 different events across 13 states to bring forward the valuable recommendations of refugees. About 1,100 girls and 1,000 boys participated through discussions specifically for children participants. Some 500 elderly women and 500 elderly men participated through dedicated discussions. Separate conversations were also held with single-headed households and specific populations to ensure that their voices were heard.

The majority of participants were South Sudanese (reflecting the fact that most refugees hosted in Sudan are from South Sudan). Participants also included refugees from Chad, CAR, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria.

Across Sudan refugees had serious concerns with protection and assistance gaps in nearly all areas, and particularly with access to: quality education, livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), justice, physical security, shelter, registration, child protection (particularly against child labour and early marriage) and protection from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

In terms of physical security and access to justice, refugees and asylum-seekers were concerned that the host community could steal from refugees, exploited them in labour situations, and even targeted them for sexual and physical violence with no consequence. Host community impunity for crimes committed against refugees was a major issue for nearly all populations, and particularly those living in Darfur.

Health was another major theme highlighted by refugees, and discussions focused on a significant lack of access to basic healthcare services. In particular, participants highlighted weak referral systems, that costs were unaffordable (particularly for pregnant women), and long waits to access services even when people were suffering from significant pain and other urgent medical issues.

A third major theme was food security and access to basic livelihoods. Here participants were concerned with insufficient assistance, and the inability of refugees to meet their basic nutrition needs because of a lack of work.

Refugees recommended that malnutrition be addressed by providing them with opportunities to work. This was particularly true in East Sudan where restrictions on freedom of movement prevented many refugees from accessing employment, forcing them to rely instead on inadequate food assistance which diminishes with time.

Communicating with communities was a discussion theme which focused on understanding the communication needs of refugee populations. In this area communities highlighted that they wanted to be involved in more aspects of the services affecting them.

Education was one of the other top themes discussed and participants worried about high dropout rates for refugee children. They listed several causes, including overcrowding, lack of materials, lack of qualified teachers, difficulty affording school fees and the need for children to help with household income generation.

Participants also reported that girls face discrimination in accessing education because they are often tasked with domestic work or forced into early marriage to reduce economic burdens on their families. Girls across the country were seen as the most vulnerable to being denied access to their basic rights to education.

WASH was another significant issue across Sudan. Particularly, a lack of functioning and appropriate latrines and subsequent unhealthy and dangerous coping strategies, such as open defecation in ill-lit areas. Further complaints about inadequate and overcrowded shelters, and a need for more non-food items (NFIs) were repeated frequently.

The findings of the participatory assessment have been shared at state level and UNHCR, Sudanese authorities and NGO partners have already started addressing some of the most pressing needs. However, much more work remains to be done to ensure that the challenges raised by refugees are addressed, and that the solutions they recommend are implemented.


Analysis Source 

 Posted 24 Sep 2020 Originally published 23 Sep 2020 Origin View original


Millions of the foreign nationals who live and work in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states hail from repressive or conflict-affected countries, and yet their situation rarely features in discussions about forced migration or the hosting of refugees. The result is both a lack of information about the specific protection challenges faced by forced migrants en route to and within the GCC States, and a limited understanding of where these individuals go, and what conditions they face, when they move on.

This new Rights in Exile Policy Paper on Forced Migration from the Gulf States to Africa (#GulfAfricaMigration), begins to address the gap. It documents the experiences of Eritreans who originally travelled to Saudi Arabia after being displaced from Eritrea, but who now find themselves pressured to leave the Gulf, but unable to return to their country of origin. For them, ‘return’ to the Horn of Africa is thus the first move in a series of new migrations and experiences of displacement within and from the continent. Uganda constitutes one of the countries to which they move in search of stability, security and protection. “We have left our country because they would steal our children [and take them] to the military. If a bullet is going to eat that child [gesturing to her son], I will bring him here, not stand and watch them do that. So I brought him here”, said one of female respondents interviewed during the research.

Based on interviews with Eritreans in Kampala, this policy paper outlines the key drivers of this population’s forced departures from Saudi Arabia, including the intensification of the country’s nationalisation programme, and their subsequent journeys to Uganda. The paper further documents the key challenges they face in Kampala, particularly with regards to applying for asylum, but also notes the plight of a sizeable population of Eritreans within the Gulf States, who are both unable to leave and unable to stay there legally, rendering them involuntarily immobile and in a state of extreme precarity. Amidst the extension of attempts to drive out certain low-skilled workers from the GCC States, and the worsening impacts of Covid-19 on employment conditions there, the protection challenges of choiceless departures to Eastern Africa and involuntary immobility will only worsen.

The author of the paper, Dr Georgia Cole noted that “their onward movement from Sudan [first country of asylum], should in no way be seen to invalidate their original claims for persecution, particularly when this has been compounded by the discrimination many of them suffered as Christians in Saudi Arabia”. As one respondent indicated, “we are still refugees. We didn’t get citizenship in Saudi and our government is still creating problems for us”. Another respondent added, “we went to Saudi because we could not wait as refugees in Sudan. We couldn’t wait for money – where was it going to come from?”. In despair, another respondent concluded that "even if we had the full status [in Uganda], there's nothing we can do with it. We left Saudi [Arabia] poor and we stay poor in Kampala. In Kampala, there's no hope for a better tomorrow."

While acknowledging a set of transformative reforms that would improve the situation of Eritrean forced migrants in and from the Gulf States, the paper outlines a number of areas for immediate policy advocacy. These include advocacy around the end of discriminatory forms of taxation within the GCC States that disproportionately target long-term migrants with resident families; strengthening monitoring mechanisms in major migrant-receiving states, such as the GCC States, to ensure that forced migrants and refugees within their labour markets are not returned to countries where they may face persecution or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; and the introduction of alternative legal statuses to regularise the position of forced migrants within Uganda in quicker, more humane and less expensive ways than individualised RSD procedures.

This case study further highlights that the key to assisting forced migrants may not be found in either ‘return to’ or ‘reform of’ the country of origin, particularly in cases where generations of displacement have resulted in significant populations residing (semi-)permanently in third countries. Shifts in employment for Eritreans in Israel, South Sudan and the Gulf States are indeed causing large numbers of these individuals to seek refuge in other African countries as they remain unable and/or unwilling to return to their country of origin. Assistance to these sites of departure and arrival, not the country of origin or traditional spaces of asylum, may prove more beneficial to the forcibly displaced. Basic statistics on return migration can therefore conceal important and widespread patterns of onward movements. Alongside contributing to the potential misallocation of funds and resources for response, this feeds into a misplaced optimism that these ‘return’ movements constitute a durable solution for displaced populations, and takes the pressure off the search for more innovative solutions that respond to their actual movements.

“When we say ‘African solutions for African problems’ this should manifest to protect Africans, and the continent’s body of laws should be interpreted to safeguard and not exclude Africans in-need. This is the least we can expect from the Pan-Africanist and the free movement regimes”, said Achieng Akena, IRRI’s Executive Director.

For more information contact us on +256 758 595 554 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Eritrean human rights organization withdraws claim against EU, but remains vigilant about forced labour


Source: Africa ExPress

Eritrea: Italian school of Asmara closed: Enforced enlistments despite the virus

By Cornelia Toelgyes on September 23, 2020

Special for Africa ExPress
Cornelia I. Toelgyes
23 September 2020

The historic Italian school of Asmara , established in 1903, has temporarily closed its doors. This can be read in a decree signed on 31 August 2020 by the chargé d’affaires of the Italian Embassy in Eritrea. The new ambassador, Marco Mancini, was appointed only a few days ago by the Council of Ministers.

Last year the institute had a thousand members, only 10 percent were Italian.

The reasons for the closure are many and the responsibility is certainly to be attributed to both governments, the onset of the crisis began several years ago. And it got worse with the cut in expenses for Italian schools abroad (DL 64/2017 and DM 2051/2018), thus preventing the use of alternates. In this way it was necessary to resort to the constant recruitment of local teachers; often the chairs were uncovered and this obviously to the detriment of the quality of school education. Certainly Eritrea has interpreted this as a gesture of minor interest on the part of our government towards the Asmara school.

Italian School, Asmara, Eritrea

The situation further precipitated in March of this year because the school principal would not have agreed on the educational suspension, aimed at avoiding the spread of the pandemic, with the competent local authorities. The intervention of the President of the Council of Ministers, Giuseppe Conte, to the Eritrean government was useless. Asmara has not renewed the license with the consequent termination of the bilateral agreement of 2012 and has sealed the building.

The students of Italian nationality were then able to take the maturity exam regularly, something that was denied to Eritrean students, who are forced to take this test in Sawa, where they were enrolled together with their compatriots.

It is not excluded that behind all this there is also the desire to nationalize the school, as was done last year with other institutions owned by the Catholic Church in the country. On that occasion, however, the dictatorship appealed to the application of a 1995 legislation that limits the activities of religious institutions.

In the past, the most deserving Eritrean students of the Italian institute of Asmara enjoyed scholarships given by our government with the aim of contributing to the training of young Eritrean excellence. For about ten years and perhaps more, the allocation of funding for study purposes in favor of students from our former colony has become increasingly rare, to almost completely disappear. The Isaias regime is somewhat reticent in granting visas for them, since they cannot leave the country until they have finished basic military training which lasts several years. An intervention by the Italian government would have been useless, it would have been seen as interference in internal affairs.

SAWA military training camp, Eritrea

At the beginning of the month, photos and videos were posted on social networks framing young people in the capital Asmara as they are loaded onto buses without a mask, headed for the Sawa training camp in the west of the country. Nothing has changed since the 2018 peace treaty signed with Ethiopia, the archenemy of all time.

As every year, the regime forces thousands of young and very young to finish the last year of secondary school in the notorious Sawa military camp, where boys and girls, in addition to studying, undergo hard military training in often prohibitive climatic conditions.

If life is hard for boys in this hell , we can only imagine what it is for girls. And in this period, no measures are applied to stem the spread of the virus: the dormitories are overcrowded, no social distancing and health care is lacking, as reported by the Human Rigts Watch Organization in a recent article.

The impact with Sawa is terrible for everyone; in Eritrea no young person can dream of his own future, everything is written from birth. The deserving students, after finishing secondary school, can attend college (military university) in the same facility and are later sent to work for the government in various ministries. The others, on the other hand, are forced to attend professional courses, which almost always means military service.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a human rights organization specializing in freedom of worship, said the Eritrean regime recently released 27 Eritrean Pentecostal Christians. Some of them had been lying in Mai Serwa prison, not far from the capital Asmara, for 16 years without any trial.

According to some CSW sources, it seems that the release of the 27 (19 men and 8 women) is somehow connected with Covid-19; they are among the first group of prisoners released out of a total of 54 that the asmarine authorities intend to release soon. Another group of 22 (mostly women and minors) belonging to the Methodist church were reportedly released in July. Their names have not been disclosed so far.

However, to prevent them from leaving the country,  these people are only free on bail; they had to pledge their property documents or those of a guarantor. Since 2002, the government has recognized only Sunni Islam, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches.

Even today, the dictatorship holds tens of thousands of its citizens in more or less 300 rotten prisons scattered throughout the country. Most of these unfortunates are incarcerated for daring to criticize the regime; extrajudicial detentions, enforced disappearances continue and family members often have no news from their relatives for years.

And if on the one hand Eritrea seems to have released some detainees to avoid the spread of the pandemic – official data do not report deaths linked to Covid-19, only 364 infected, among these 305 recovered – the regime continues the forced enlistment of Young people.


Source: Watson

[Note: computer translation from the original]

Switzerland reveals data from rejected asylum seekers to the regime in Eritrea. In the National Council, answers are now required from the Federal Council.

9/19/20, 10:09 9/19/20, 2:37 pm
Petar Marjanović
Petar Marjanović

Eritrean refugees have experienced one tightening of asylum after another in the past few years.

In fact, those people fleeing the dictatorship and national service have little chance of protection in Switzerland today: first, illegal departure was denied as a reason to flee, then it was claimed that deserting from national service posed no danger to returnees the Federal Administrative Court ruled that there was no situation of general violence in Eritrea and that a return there would not be generally unreasonable .

This had precarious consequences for the people affected: They are not even “temporarily admitted” – instead, they are increasingly receiving negative decisions on their asylum applications. But because Eritrea still does not accept forced deportations, these people stay here anyway. Paperless and with a minimal need for emergency aid.

The federal government reports rejected refugees to the Eritrean authorities

Research by watson now shows a further tightening. The Switzerland since 2019 informed the Eritrean authorities if a rejected asylum seeker does not want to voluntarily leave Switzerland.

This data exchange was touted by the Federal Council last May as “improved cooperation in the area of ​​identifying individual cases”. Behind it, however, is a new practice that is being criticized by politicians, those affected, lawyers and activists.

The SEM takes the position that expelled persons have to organize their departure themselves by the given deadline. In the case of Eritrea, a voluntary return is reasonable if it is legally established that an asylum seeker no longer needs the “protection of Switzerland”. “However, if the person who is now required to leave the country remains inactive in obtaining travel documents and preparing to leave the country, the SEM will clarify the origin and identity of this person.”

The door of the Embassy and Mission of Eritrea to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva is pictured, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, August 12, 2015. (KEYSTONE / Salvatore Di Nolfi)

The Swiss authorities exchange personal data with the Eritrean authorities. pictured: keystone

Principle: The Home country must not know anything about the asylum application – does that still apply?

Such identification checks are not unusual in the asylum sector. However, the principle applies that the home authorities of a refugee may not find out about the asylum application, even if the Swiss authorities have rejected it. This principle has been anchored in law since 2007. The asylum law prohibits since then the exchange of personal data of asylum seekers, if as a result the person or members would be harmed.

It is doubtful whether this principle will be adhered to – i.e. whether the SEM is violating the law by forwarding the data to the Eritrean authorities. The exchange of personal data can in principle take place in such a way that officials in Eritrea do not find out about an asylum application. A person involved, who does not want to be named, explains:

«We only report to them that we have an Eritrean here who has to leave the country. The authority then confirms whether this person is really an Eritrean citizen or not. “

Even if the Swiss authorities formulate their identification requests carefully and in accordance with the law: The Eritrean authorities will most likely be able to assume that it is a compatriot who has applied for asylum in Switzerland. This conclusion allows the statistics on “return assistance”: At the end of August, one of 430 ongoing identification requests to Eritrea concerned a case outside the asylum area.

There is no legal answer whether this practice violates the Asylum Act. The renowned migration lawyer and asylum law expert Alberto Achermann describes this as a “question of interpretation”. “It has not been legally clarified from what statistical probability an identification request reveals something about a possible asylum application,” says Achermann. The only thing that is undisputed is that this should not endanger a person or their relatives.

Federal data protection agency defines clear guidelines for data exchange

The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (EDÖB for short) is more critical. His spokesman Hugo Wyler does not comment on whether figures reveal anything about a possible asylum application. He notes, however, that the Swiss authorities are only allowed to contact their home country or country of origin if “eviction actually takes place / can take place”.

“If you don’t do that for compulsory eviction and also not for voluntary returnees: then what for?”

Asylum law expert Alberto Achermann

In the case of Eritrea, the conclusion is obvious: if a rejected Eritrean refugee does not want to leave Switzerland voluntarily and cannot be brought to Eritrea due to the lack of a return agreement, then data exchange is not allowed. Asylum law expert Achermann asks himself what the purpose of such identification requests is: “If you don’t do it for compulsory eviction and also not for voluntary returnees: what then?”

The SEM justifies this with the statutory mandate, according to which the federal government must provide the cantons with implementation support. “The fact that a person does not want to return voluntarily or that the cooperation in his country of origin is inadequate does not change anything,” SEM spokesman Reto Kormann continues.

Diplomacy and millions did not get Eritrean politics any further

It is possible that Switzerland will want to keep the communication channel to Eritrea open through such cooperation in order to somehow, at some point, be able to negotiate a readmission agreement. The efforts made so far have not been politically successful. An internal SDC report that watson received on the basis of the Public Information Act states that Eritrea’s government does not want any returnees from abroad. “On the one hand because of the lack of remission payments, on the other hand because of a certain fear of troublemakers.”


The SDC report from 2019 was blackened in important parts. screenshot: watson

The report also notes that so far not a single state has had luck with a readmission agreement. Not even a “confidence-building measure” in the form of EU investments amounting to 200 million euros helped . The internal analysis adds laconically: “There was no corresponding consideration in the form of a readmission agreement”.

Eritrea can collect diaspora tax thanks to information from the federal government

The delicate exchange of data is therefore not well received by the Swiss Refugee Aid. She describes the SEM’s approach as “very questionable”. Eritrea is still a “repressive dictatorship and human rights violations are the order of the day”. If the Eritrean authorities learn that there may be citizens critical of the regime in Switzerland, then family members in Eritrea could be put under pressure.

epa04190193 Eritrean refugees sleep on the sidewalk of a street as they wait for help from UNHCR in Sana'a, Yemen, 03 May 2014. Reports state over 210 Eritrean refugees, including women and children, called on the UN Refugee Agency to provide them with protection and assistance, especially most of them allegedly having fled from Eritrea to Yemen to avoid forced military service. EPA / YAHYA ARHAB

Eritreans on the run: here in Yemen in 2014. image: epa / epa

Eliane Engeler, spokeswoman for refugee aid, also mentions the so-called “diaspora tax”. Eritrea levies a 2 percent tax on its citizens abroad, with which the country is to be built up. In 2013, the Federal Council was unable to confirm rumors that this tax would also be collected by force or with attempted pressure. However, he found that Eritrean embassies sometimes insist on paying the diaspora tax before offering a compatriot any consular service.

Such a consular service would be, for example, official papers, birth certificates or even passports. If it turns out that a rejected asylum seeker has deserted from the Eritrean national service, a higher payment or a “letter of remorse” will be required. There is no guarantee that you can feel safe after voluntary return. That is why many Eritreans stay in Switzerland or hide elsewhere in order to be outside the radar of the regime-loyal embassy.

SP National Councilor wants to request answers from the Federal Council

Samira Marti, candidate as the new JUSO President, before the JUSO delegates' meeting in Zurich on Saturday, June 18, 2016. On June 18, Fabian Molina will step down as JUSO President. Samira Marti and Tamara Funiciello have applied to be the new JUSO President. (KEYSTONE / Walter Bieri)

The SP politician Samira Marti represents the canton of Baselland in the National Council. pictured: keystone

The delicate exchange of data is also causing criticism in the Federal Palace. SP National Councilor Samira Marti says: “If it is true that the SEM lets the Eritrean authorities know which people have been refused asylum in this country, then that is a real scandal.” The Basel bidder sits on the National Council’s State Political Commission, which deals with the Federal Council’s migration policy. Marti announced that she would address this exchange of data in the commission and demand answers from the Federal Council on the legality of this “questionable partnership between Switzerland and Eritrea”.

In her statement, the social democrat emphasizes the precarious asylum situation of the people from Eritrea. «Since the tightening of the case law, many Eritreans have been living in unworthy conditions. If Switzerland now reports rejected asylum seekers to the Eritrean regime, then it is a new summit in the tragic asylum policy. “

Switzerland was sharply criticized for this in May 2020 by a special rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council. The report expressed concern about the 56 people who have voluntarily returned to Eritrea: “These people could be at risk because their return conditions cannot be adequately monitored.”

Former Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter, the predecessor of today’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, does not want to comment on the current development between Switzerland and Eritrea. Burkhalter stresses, however, that his principle on human rights issues has not changed. “Only a clear improvement in very specific areas of human rights” would make it possible to start a “real dialogue with this country”. In a statement to watson, he mentions the possibility for “neutral and credible organizations” such as the International Red Cross to visit prisons in Eritrea.

This is still not the case today.

News and Press Release
Source: OCHA
Posted:  21 Sep 2020
Originally published  21 Sep 2020


Khartoum, 21 September 2020. Humanitarian organizations in Sudan have reached over 350,000 people with life-saving assistance as continued torrential rains threaten more damages in the worst floods to hit the country in three decades. Over 120 people have lost their lives and the number of people critically affected exceeds 770,000, according to the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission. The Government declared, two weeks ago, a State of Emergency in the country due to the unprecedented flooding.

“We are, in fact, talking about one of the worst floods since 1988, when one million houses were damaged or destroyed. We are assisting thousands of people, but the rains will probably continue, and the number of people affected could further increase over the coming days,” said Paola Emerson, Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan.

Since the beginning of the season in July, aid organizations, in support of the Transitional Civilian Government of Sudan, provided emergency shelter and household items such as kitchen utensils to more than 150,000 people who have lost everything when their houses collapsed or where washed away by floodwater. Humanitarians have also provided health services to over 200,000 people affected by the storms and critical support on water and sanitation to over 350,000.

The quick response has been possible as UN agencies and partners, with support of its donors, prepositioned supplies to meet the most immediate needs of 250,000 people before the rains started. But the numbers exceeded all forecasts and Government and humanitarians are now in a race against time to mobilize more funds and supplies to continue the operation. “The Government is responding, and donors are coming forward. Civil society organizations are also supporting people who are in dire need of assistance. But Sudan was already facing a very difficult situation before the rains and the floods increased the need of assistance,” said Ms. Emerson.

The crisis will not be over when the rains stop, and the full impact of the destruction will be felt in the months ahead. Thousands of farms have been damaged in the middle of the agricultural season, compromising the harvest and the food security of thousands of families.

Access to clean water, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been compromised. “Nearly 16,000 latrines were destroyed and the collapse of the Bout Dam hampers access to water to more than 100,000 people in Blue Nile alone,” warned the Head of OCHA Sudan.

Extreme weather events are a reality in the region and affect Sudan year after year. “But these shocks are becoming more frequent and unpredictable. We connect droughts with floods and this year we had the locust infestation in several countries in Eastern Africa,” said Ms. Emerson. Humanitarian organizations in Sudan are increasing operations and the support from donors is impressive. But the Humanitarian Response Plan remains underfunded. “We only received 15 per cent of the US$110 million requested for health services. This is less than half of the total received last year, when we didn’t have a COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ms. Emerson.

The funding for water, sanitation and hygiene services, critical for COVID and floods response is also extremely low, less than 22 per cent of the total required. “If we don’t receive more support soon, we will not be able to continue our work. It means that fewer people will receive medical attention or have access to clean water and sanitation services to prevent diseases. We are running out of stocks. More is urgently needed to ensure that we do not fall short at this critical moment for the people of Sudan,” finalized Paola Emerson.

Note to editors:

Additional information on the humanitarian consequences of floods in Sudan can be found here.

For further information and interview requests, please contact OCHA Sudan:

Saviano Abreu: +249 912 174 454 | WhatsApp: +34 628 498 279 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit


Source: Prisoners List

An online memorial to missing Eritrean prisoners.
An online memorial to missing Eritrean prisoners. Setit site

On September 18, 2001, 19 years ago, the main reformists in Eritrea were arrested after denouncing the “dictatorial drift” of President Issayas Afewerki. This roundup marked the start of a wave of arrests in the following days, especially among journalists in the capital. None of these prisoners have been released to date and it is not known where they were held or their state of health. But to ensure that political prisoners are not forgotten, Eritreans in the diaspora have compiled an exceptional document released last month, listing the missing in detail.


We inevitably think of a memorial. Leafing through the fifty or so pages published last month on the Setit site , named after Asmara’s major newspaper which forcibly ceased to appear in September 2001, is like walking along the wall of a virtual monument: page after page follows one another. identity photographs, old and banal images, faces never seen for twenty years; short biographies, a job, a background; sometimes just a name and an approximate date of arrest, for lack of being able to find the families or relatives of the countless political detainees in this closed country in the Horn of Africa.

Since his New York exile, the former Eritrean journalist Ahmed Raji coordinated this publication based on data from NGOs, human rights associations, activists in exile, and families. He who was the friend of many of these disappeared from Eritrean prisons assumes a militant act in the face of ”  exceptional cruelty  “.

“  The government’s strategy is to simply throw these people in jail and forget about them ,” he explains. The prisoners are not even questioned! Some have been in prison for years, even decades, without knowing why they are being held. The guards who fled the country say that they are simply told: your role is to prevent them from escaping, period!  ”

Enforced disappearance is a common practice

Thanks to these rare testimonies from fugitives, it is also assumed that some of these prisoners died in detention, for lack of treatment or as a result of unfathomable psychological distress. Sometimes, very rarely, a body is returned to the families, but most of the time their death remains only a hypothesis. Similarly, we know the places where they would be held, secret or not, but without great certainty. The document published on theSetit also offers a satellite photo of one of these prisons, the isolated penitentiary of Eiraeiro, lost in the mountains, opening a sad chronological timeline going from independence in 1991 to the present day.

Because enforced disappearance is a common practice in Eritrea. “  It turns out that this is an old tactic of the ruling party, the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, the FPDJ, which during the national liberation struggle was called the Popular Front for the Liberation of ‘Eritrea, the EFLP, explains Ahmed Raji. We have data on disappearances in the bush, long before independence. But that would be another story, more work to be done.  ”

“Remembering is an act of defiance”

On the cover page of the document is a motto: “  Remembering is an act of defiance . This is the same message that Ahmed Raji hammers to justify this painstaking work. “  By making these people disappear, the intention of the government is to ensure that they are forgotten ,” he explains. The intention is to erase them from the collective memory of the people. And our goal is quite simply to prevent the regime from achieving that goal.  ”

The profiles of the missing are diverse. They are not only famous politicians or opponents, rebellious soldiers, but also ”  young and old, women and men, intellectuals, peasants or teachers,” says Ahmed Raji. A bit like a parallel Eritrea.  “. A host of faces and shattered destinies, he concludes, in the form of “a  mirror image of Eritrea.” But an Eritrea that would be underground.  ”


Source: CSW

Conditional release of 27 Christian prisoners

11 Sep 2020

CSW has confirmed that 27 Eritrean Christians were released from Mai Serwa Prison near Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, on 4 and 8 September, possibly in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to CSW’s sources, the group consisted of 19 men and eight women who had been detained without charge or trial for between two and 16 years, and who are thought to be the first of around 54 anticipated releases. However, the releases are reportedly conditional on the submission of  property deeds ensuring their guarantors are held liable for their future actions.

Sources confirmed that the releases did not include any detained church leaders.  Moreover, the releases were preceded by the arrests of several Christians in Asmara, including around four church leaders, two weeks earlier.

Commenting on these events, a CSW source said: It is a government strategy. They cannot detain everybody, so they keep you for some time, hoping that you will become weak or frightened.  Then they put in other people. They release and put other people in prison at the same time.” 

The source put the number of Christians currently detained at a little over 300, including 39 children, “although these numbers fluctuate.”

Tens of thousands of Eritreans are currently held without charge or trial in life threatening conditions in more than 300 sites across the country. Among those incarcerated are prisoners of conscience, some of whom have been detained for well over a decade on account of their political views or religious beliefs. Conditions in these facilities are overcrowded, unsanitary and inadequate; detention facilities include shipping containers, underground cells, and the open air in the desert, and access to medical attention is insufficient and often withheld as punishment. Mai Serwa prison, where the former detainees were jailed, is infamous for utilising metal shipping containers as holding cells.

The spate of recent releases is being attributed to the spread of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded prison system.  However, Eritrea is officially reporting just 341 cases, and claims that no one has died of the virus so far. There has been no independent verification of these assertions.

In an earlier development, reports emerged in August indicating that members of the Muslim community who were  detained in 2018 in connection with protests following the death of respected Muslim elder Haji Musa Mohammed Nur had been released.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “While applauding the fact that people who were deprived of their liberty have regained their freedom, it is also important to recall that they were detained arbitrarily and without due process for excessive periods simply on account of their religious beliefs.  Moreover, these releases remain conditional, as they were secured by property deeds, leaving the guarantors vulnerable to losing their properties.  The guarantors could also lose their freedom should a former detainee exercise the right to leave the country, a right articulated in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Eritrea is party. Far more prisoners of conscience remain arbitrarily detained than have been released, and the fact that these releases were preceded by further arrests is indicative of an ongoing repression of the right to freedom of religion or belief.  CSW therefore continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners detained arbitrarily, particularly in view of a pandemic that poses a risk to life for those still held in inhumane conditions.”

Eritrea ‘releases Christian prisoners on bail’

Kahsay Tewoldebirhan

BBC Tigrinya

The Eritrean government has released on bail more than 20 prisoners who had been in detention for years because of their faith, sources have told the BBC.

The prisoners from Christian evangelical and Pentecostal denominations are among those being held in a prison outside the capital, Asmara.

In Eritrea only four religious groups are officially recognised – Christian Orthodox, Catholic Church, Lutheran Church and Sunni Islam.

Since 2002 all other religious groups have lacked the legal basis to practise their faiths publicly, including holding prayer meetings or weddings, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

US-based Hannibal Daniel, who campaigns for religious freedom, said people imprisoned for about 16 years were among those freed.

He said their conditional release could be linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Eritrean government has not officially commented on the reported release of the prisoners, but it has previously dismissed accusations of intolerance to religious freedom.

Campaigners advocating for religious freedom say three Jehovah Witnesses have been in prison in the country for more than 25 years.

The US State Department estimates that there are 1,200 to 3,000 prisoners of faith in Eritrea