*Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Opens for First Time in 20 Years* ❝Astebeha Tesfaye went to visit friends…

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  • Das Regime in Eritrea ist so repressiv wie vor dem Friedensschluss mit Äthiopien

    Das Land am Horn von Afrika hat mit seinem Nachbarn Äthiopien nach Jahrzehnten Frieden geschlossen. Doch punkto Menschenrechte bleibt es ein repressiver Staat, wie die Uno nun analysiert hat. Und es sieht nicht so aus, als würde sich das bald ändern.

    Die Menschenrechtslage in Eritrea ist auch nach dem letztjährigen Friedensschluss mit dem Nachbarstaat Äthiopien äusserst besorgniserregend. Zu diesem Schluss kommt das Uno-Hochkommissariat für Menschenrechte. «Im vergangenen Jahr haben wir in Bezug auf die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte keine Verbesserung feststellen können», sagte Kate Gilmore, stellvertretende Uno-Menschenrechtskommissarin, letzte Woche im Menschenrechtsrat in Genf.
    «Heute so repressiv wie vor dem Friedensschluss mit Äthiopien»

    Die dringend nötige Reform des unbefristeten Nationaldienstes, zu dem alle Eritreer verpflichtet sind, sei ausgeblieben. Noch immer komme es in dessen Rahmen regelmässig zu sexueller Gewalt, Folter und Zwangsarbeit, so Gilmore. Daniela Kravetz, die Uno-Sonderberichterstatterin für Eritrea, wies zudem auf die inakzeptablen Bedingungen für Gefangene hin. Weiterhin würden Eritreer ohne Begründung und ohne Prozess während Jahren eingesperrt; Angehörige würden über den Aufenthaltsort und den Zustand der Inhaftierten oft nicht informiert. Noch immer fehle dem Land zudem ein institutioneller Rahmen, um diese Probleme überhaupt anzugehen: «Es gibt keine Verfassung, kein nationales Parlament, keine unabhängige Justiz, keine Gewaltenteilung», so Kravetz.

    Auch für Vanessa Tsehaye, die Gründerin einer NGO, hatte das Tauwetter am Horn von Afrika bisher keine Auswirkungen auf die Menschenrechtslage in Eritrea. «Das Regime ist heute so repressiv wie vor dem Friedensschluss mit Äthiopien», sagte Tsehaye vor dem Menschenrechtsrat.

    Gilmore forderte Eritrea dazu auf, die überfälligen Reformen rasch in Angriff zu nehmen. Das Argument, der unbefristete Nationaldienst müsse aufgrund des Konflikts mit Äthiopien beibehalten werden, gelte nun nicht mehr. «Der Frieden mit Äthiopien liefert jene Sicherheit, die die eritreische Regierung immer als Voraussetzung angab, um den Nationaldienst einzustellen und den Fokus von der Sicherheit auf die Entwicklung zu verlagern.» Sollte es diesbezüglich keine Fortschritte geben, sei ein Ende des Flüchtlingsstroms aus Eritrea nicht abzusehen, so die stellvertretende Uno-Menschenrechtskommissarin.

    Tesfamicael Gerahtu, der Vertreter Asmaras, ging auf die geäusserte Kritik kaum ein. «Die Erwartung gewisser Kritiker, dass sich Dinge über Nacht ändern, ist unrealistisch», sagte er. Es sei falsch, den Nationaldienst als «moderne Sklaverei» zu bezeichnen. Vielmehr solle die internationale Gemeinschaft anerkennen, dass dieser das «nationale Überleben in einer Zeit von Feindseligkeit» sichergestellt habe. Es sei, fügte Gerahtu hinzu, nicht angezeigt, die eritreische Regierung zu harsch zu kritisieren: «Es wäre kontraproduktiv, Druck auf Eritrea auszuüben.»
    Unerfüllte Hoffnungen

    Äthiopien und Eritrea hatten im vergangenen Jahr nach fast zwei Jahrzehnten Frieden geschlossen. In der Folge keimte die Hoffnung, dass sich die Menschenrechtslage in Eritrea verbessern würde. Letzten Herbst ist Eritrea zudem dem Uno-Menschenrechtsrat beigetreten.

    Schon im Januar hat die Uno indes darauf hingewiesen, dass wesentliche Fortschritte im Menschenrechtsbereich bis dato ausgeblieben sind. Weiterhin verwehrt Asmara zudem der Uno-Sonderberichterstatterin Kravetz die Einreise ins Land.

    https://www.nzz.ch/information/adblocker-fuer-nzz-abschalten-ld.10501

    #COI #Erythrée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #répression #paix (well...) #Ethiopie #processus_de_paix

    • Amid border wrangles, Eritreans wrestle with staying or going

      An unexpected rapprochement last year between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the subsequent opening of the border, seemed to offer hope of a more lenient approach toward freedom of movement by the repressive Eritrean government.

      https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2019/04/30/amid-border-wrangles-eritreans-wrestle-staying-or-going
      #frontières #ouverture_des_frontières #frontières_ouvertes

    • Why are Eritreans fleeing their country?

      Eritrea has accused the UN’s refugee agency of forcibly relocating some of its citizens stranded in Libya to Niger.

      In the past decade, thousands of Eritreans looking to improve their lives in Europe have become stranded in Libya.

      Detained during their illegal transit or rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean, refugees are sent to detention centres.

      But the battle for control of the capital Tripoli has left them exposed to the dangers of war with some going days without food.

      The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has intervened and relocated migrants to safer areas, while sending some to other countries.

      Among them, a group of 159 Eritrean nationals were sent to Niger before being relocated to a third country.

      And that hasn’t gone down well with Eritrea’s government.

      But what would happen if those Eritreans went back home?

      And is the country’s unlimited national service, a reason why many fled?

      Presenter: Richelle Carey

      Guests:

      #Suleiman_Hussein - Chairperson of Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea

      #Fisseha_Teklae - Researcher for the Horn of Africa for Amnesty International

      Marie-Roger Biloa - Chief executive officer of MRB Networks

      https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2019/05/eritereans-fleeing-country-190506193053215.html

    • "Für die Menschen in Eritrea hat sich nichts geändert"

      Eritrea geht harsch gegen die katholische Minderheit vor - vermutlich weil Bischöfe demokratische Reformen gefordert hatten. Im Gespräch zeigt sich der eritreische Priester Mussie Zerai besorgt über die Lage in seiner Heimat.

      Seit Jahren gehört Eritrea weltweit zu den Ländern, aus denen die meisten Menschen flüchten: Allein im Jahr 2018 stellten laut Uno-Flüchtlingswerk UNHCR 42.000 Eritreer Asylanträge. Das kleine Land am Horn von Afrika gilt als repressive Diktatur und wird seit seiner Unabhängigkeit 1993 in Alleinherrschaft von Präsident Isayas Afewerki regiert. Der Uno-Menschenrechtsrat wirft dem Regime regelmäßig schwere Menschenrechtsverletzungen vor.

      Vor einem Jahr schloss Eritrea ein historisches Friedensabkommen mit dem Nachbarland Äthiopien, viele hofften danach auf Reformen. Im Interview mit SPIEGEL ONLINE spricht der eritreische Priester Mussie Zerai darüber, warum sich für die Menschen in seiner Heimat trotzdem nichts verändert hat.

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: Herr Mussie Zerai, die eritreische Regierung hat vergangenen Monat alle 21 katholischen Krankenhäuser im Land schließen lassen. Warum?

      Mussie Zerai: Das Regime in Eritrea bezeichnet sich selbst als kommunistisch und lehnt Religionen grundsätzlich ab. Nur der Staat soll die Autorität über alle Bereiche der Gesellschaft haben. Zwar wird die katholische Kirche geduldet, aber besonders wenn sie anfängt, sich sozial zu engagieren und Freiheitsrechte einzufordern, ist das dem Regime ein Dorn im Auge.

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: Was haben die Kirchen denn konkret getan?

      Zerai: Die katholischen Bischöfe in Eritrea haben an Ostern einen offenen Brief veröffentlicht, in dem sie Gewalt und Ungerechtigkeit im Land beschreiben und Reformen einfordern. Eigentlich müssen alle Publikationen in Eritrea von der staatlichen Zensurkommission freigegeben werden. Die Bischöfe haben sich dem aber widersetzt und den Brief einfach per E-Mail und über soziale Netzwerke verbreitet. Das hat den Präsidenten sehr verärgert. Die Schließung der Krankenhäuser war die Rache dafür.

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: Nur etwa fünf Prozent der Menschen in Eritrea sind katholisch. Wieso hat die Regierung Angst vor der Kirche?

      Zerai: Die katholische Kirche ist weltweit vernetzt und hat Beziehungen, die bis nach Rom reichen. Vor diesem internationalen Einfluss hat der Diktator in Eritrea Angst. Außerdem fürchtet er, zu wenig Kontrolle über die Kirche zu haben, weil sie viele soziale Einrichtungen im Land betreibt: Krankenhäuser und Schulen zum Beispiel. Deshalb sind Christen immer wieder Repressionen ausgesetzt. Leute werden verhaftet, nur weil sie öffentlich beten oder zum Gottesdienst gehen. Das Oberhaupt der orthodoxen Kirche in Eritrea, Abune Antonios, steht seit 14 Jahren unter Hausarrest.

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: Vor einem Jahr haben Eritrea und Äthiopien nach Jahrzehnten des Kriegszustandes einen Friedensvertrag abgeschlossen. Viele haben gehofft, dass sich die Menschenrechtslage in Eritrea dadurch verbessert. Ist nichts passiert?

      Zerai: Leider nein. Für die Menschen in Eritrea hat sich nichts geändert. Es gibt weiterhin den Militärdienst, der Menschen auf Lebenszeit zwingt, für den Staat zu arbeiten - ohne richtig dafür bezahlt zu werden. Politische Gefangene und inhaftierte Journalisten wurden nicht freigelassen. Unsere Verfassung ist immer noch nicht in Kraft getreten. Außerdem steigt die Armut im Land, weil das Regime jede Form der Privatwirtschaft unterbindet. Deshalb fliehen immer noch so viele Eritreer, gerade in der jungen Bevölkerung. Die Menschen sind sehr wütend.

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: Trotzdem gibt es keine Demonstrationen im Land?

      Zerai: Öffentliche Versammlungen sind in Eritrea verboten. Sobald mehrere Leute auf der Straße zusammenstehen, kommt die Polizei. Außerdem herrscht ein großes Misstrauen zwischen den Leuten, weil der staatliche Geheimdienst überall präsent ist. In den vergangenen 20 Jahren sind mehr als 10.000 Menschen verschwunden. Die Leute haben Angst, niemand vertraut dem anderen. Das macht es sehr schwierig, Proteste zu organisieren.

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: Fürchten Sie, dass das Regime in Zukunft weiter gegen die Kirche vorgeht?

      Zerai: Ja, wir haben Angst, dass der Staat als Nächstes die katholischen Bildungseinrichtungen schließt. Es gibt etwa 50 Schulen und mehr als 100 Kindergärten in Eritrea, die von der Kirche geführt werden. Gerade in ländlichen Gegenden sind das oft die einzigen Bildungseinrichtungen, die es gibt. Wenn die wegfallen, dann können viele Kinder im Land nicht mehr zur Schule gehen.

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/eritrea-nach-dem-frieden-mit-aethiopien-fuer-die-menschen-hat-sich-nichts-ge

    • Eritreans wait in vain for change after peace with Ethiopia

      Eritrean taxi driver Mihreteab recalls brimming with hope in July 2018 when his country reached a peace agreement with neighbour and longtime foe Ethiopia.

      But a year and a half later, that hope has given way to disenchantment.

      “I don’t see any changes so far. People are still in jail and life is the same,” he said while waiting for passengers on a main avenue in Asmara.

      Like other ordinary Eritreans who spoke to an AFP journalist during a rare visit to the famously closed-off country, Mihreteab asked that his full name not be published.

      On the streets of the Eritrean capital, he was far from alone in feeling disillusioned.

      “I like my country and I think you are also enjoying your stay. However, life is still the same for me,” said Tekie, a small trader who sells home appliances at a market in the city centre.

      Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a deadly border war beginning in 1998 that claimed nearly 80,000 lives before a stalemate took hold in 2000 and lasted nearly two decades.

      Last year’s surprise peace deal remains the signature achievement of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and is the main reason he received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

      During the whip-fast rapprochement that followed, embassies reopened, flights resumed and meetings were held across the region.

      But progress has since stalled and the land border between the two nations is once again closed.

      Inside Eritrea, speculation that peace would spur reforms and ease years of repression has so far proved misguided.

      The regime of Isaias Afwerki, the only president Eritrea has ever known, has given no sign of any kind of political opening, and the situation may in fact be getting worse.

      In June, officials ordered the closure of Catholic-run health centres after church leaders published a letter expressing concern over the lack of reforms.

      There are also reports of a new wave of attempts to nationalise private schools.

      Nevertheless, ordinary Eritreans appear to appreciate Abiy’s peacemaking efforts, and the Ethiopian leader seems genuinely popular on the streets of Asmara.

      “He’s a good man and really deserved the Nobel,” said Nigisti, a handicrafts vendor.

      –‘One day life will change’-

      Even if the hoped-for benefits of peace haven’t materialised, some Eritreans remain optimistic.

      Nazret, who sells cereal in Asmara, is among them.

      “The peace deal gives me hope that one day life will change. Peace is important for us,” she said.

      Buying vegetables nearby, Netsunet said she also chose to focus on the positive.

      Born in Ethiopia in 1982 to parents of Eritrean origin, she was forced out during the war and has spent half her life in a country she does not consider her own.

      She prefers not to dwell on the moment she was “separated by force” from Ethiopia, and said she is grateful that now she has an opportunity to return.

      “At least today, we can fly to see each other,” she said. “I plan to visit my old neighbours in Ethiopia in December.”

      Eritrean officials argue that it’s wrong to suggest nothing has changed in Eritrea.

      Instead, they say the pace of reform has been deliberately slow to preserve their country’s sovereignty.

      Last week, Asmara hosted a summit for the Addis Ababa-based United Nations Economic Commission for Africa that drew delegates from across the region.

      According to Mohammed Gumhed, a researcher at the Eritrean foreign ministry, this kind of event “could not have happened before the peace deal”.

      –A ‘new chapter’?-

      During his opening remarks at the conference, Eritrean Foreign Affairs Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed declared that a wave of hope and unity was washing over the Horn of Africa after decades of conflict.

      He emphasised Eritrea’s progress in expanding access to health services, water, education and transportation.

      Addressing criticism of Isaias’ iron-fisted rule during a briefing with conference delegates, Ghetachew Merhatsion, who works in the president’s office, said Isaias was merely respecting the will of the people.

      “We see multi-party systems in many African countries and that is good for democracy. However for now Eritreans have decided to have only one party and we are making progress,” he said.

      Alem Kibreab, director-general at Eritrea’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, held out hope that the peace deal could change how the world sees Eritrea and how international investors engage with the country.

      “Who would invest when there is no peace? Now a new chapter is beginning,” he said.

      Asked about progress on reopening the two countries’ land border, Ambassador Tesfamicael Gerahtu, an official at the Eritrean foreign ministry, predicted that the main crossings would soon be reopened, though he said this would have to wait until “implementation of the agreement is finalised”.

      “The dialogues are at an advanced stage and we hope it will soon be declared,” he said.

      https://eritrea-focus.org/eritreans-wait-in-vain-for-change-after-peace-with-ethiopia

    • Fuggire la pace. L’Eritrea ad un anno dallo storico accordo di pace con l’Etiopia

      In Europa, l’accordo di pace tra Etiopia ed Eritrea è stato festeggiato come una svolta inaspettata: la prova che le autorità eritree avevano finalmente voltato pagina, un’occasione unica per riconciliarsi con il regime di Afewerkie. Fondi firmati EU sono stati già stanziati per realizzazione di grandi opere, ma l’aria che si respira ad Asmara è decisamente meno entusiasmante. Mentre il numero di persone in fuga dal servizio nazionale si è quadruplicato, i confini con l’Etiopia sono stati nuovamente chiusi e la sensazione di asfissia è tornata ad impadronirsi delle strade in stile modernista di Asmara. Dalla capitale Asmara alla regione di confine del Tigrai Nancy Porsia e la fotografa Cinzia Canneri ci raccontano un’altra Eritrea, quella che non crede alla «pace esterna».

      Con lo sguardo incollato sulla stradina sterrata che conduce verso uno dei palazzoni non finiti di periferia, Genet schiva le attenzioni dei passanti. La sua tunica abbondante non riesce a far passare inosservati la parrucca dal capello lungo e mesciato e il trucco molto marcato. Genet, nome di fantasia per tutelarne l’incolumità, è una prostituta e vive poco lontano dal centro di Asmara e i suoi edifici in stile modernista firmati da architetti italiani di fine Ottocento e del Ventennio, che dal 2017 sono Patrimonio Unesco.

      “Ci campo la famiglia” dice Genet, accennando un sorriso che malcela le sofferenze. In uno stanzone, suddiviso solo da tende, Genet vive con sua figlia, sua sorella e i figli, e suo fratello. Un televisore al centro della stanza e tutto intorno le pareti sono invase da poster colorati raffiguranti Gesù e i santi, come da tradizione ortodossa. In balcone un fornelletto da campeggio funge da cucina, mentre per il bagno tocca andare nell’androne dello stabile. Per questa sistemazione pagano circa 1000 Nakfa, più o meno 50 euro al mese. Una somma importante in un paese dove il salario medio è di 450 nakfa. Genet sta preparando con sua figlia la partenza. Direzione Etiopia dove il figlio più grande ha chiesto l’asilo politico già due anni prima, in fuga dal servizio nazionale.

      In migliaia fuggono ogni mese da quello che viene definito “il regime più sanguinario” d’Africa. Una volta all’estero gli eritrei raccontano storie inenarrabili di arresti e torture perpetrati con la logica di un regime che punisce chi si rifiuta di rimanere a vita al servizio dello Stato.

      Quando nel luglio del 2018 il Presidente Isaias Afewerki accettò l’offerta del neo primo ministro etiope di firmare l’accordo di pace bilaterale, gli eritrei rimasero increduli. Dal 1998 Eritrea ed Etiopia sono rimaste in guerra, o meglio in uno stato di “nessuna guerra, nessuna pace” da quando, nel 2000, l’Etiopia rifiutò le condizioni imposte da una commissione di frontiera istituita dal Tribunale dell’Aja in virtù dell’accordo di pace. Da allora in Eritrea è rimasto in vigore lo Stato di emergenza proclamato da Asmara due anni prima, e anche il limite di 18 mesi per il servizio nazionale previsto dalla costituzione del 1993, non è mai stato ripristinato.

      Eppure in giro per le principali strade del Paese, il regime non s’incontra. Nella capitale Asmara non c’è ombra di presidi militari, se non figure esili in divisa che si muovono a passo lento e con lo sguardo disinteressato di chi ha appena smontato dal turno di lavoro. Mentre donne molto anziane, con indosso abbondanti grembiuli grigio topo, spazzano i bordi dei marciapiedi della “piccola Roma”, come la chiamano i locali con una malcelata punta d’orgoglio. Con i suoi fiori rigogliosi, le ville in stile liberty, il suo ordine e la sua pulizia maniacali, Asmara restituisce tuttavia un senso di imbarazzo e asfissia. Quelle donne, che a fatica riescono a tirarsi dietro il bidoncino della spazzatura a loro assegnato, fanno parte dell’esercito ‘non armato’ del servizio nazionale eritreo, così come chi insegna a scuola, mette timbri in aeroporto, o fa il minatore, l’ingegnere e l’architetto.

      Su viale della Libertà, che taglia il centro storico da parte a parte, sono in tante le donne sedute agli angoli dei marciapiedi che con i loro figli mendicano. “L’accattonaggio è severamente vietato qui, ma da qualche tempo la gente ha preso coraggio e chiede l’elemosina. La gente qui ha fame” ci dice un insegnante incontrato in un caffè sempre piantonato da mendicanti.

      “La pace è un buon inizio” esordisce Solomon, ancora stupito di parlare con degli europei. Solomon lavora in un ufficio governativo da sei anni ad Asmara, e negli orari extra ufficio guida il suo taxi in giro per la capitale: “Per arrotondare” spiega. Poi racconta “Mio cugino è andato via due anni fa, ora è in Germania. E’ passato per il Sudan, Libia, e poi ha preso la via del mare”. La sua voce è bassa. Solomon sa che in patria chi scappa è un disertore, e che parlare dei disertori è pericoloso. Sorride come per prendere la rincorsa, e tutto d’un fiato ci dice “Io vorrei presto sposarmi, ma con lo stipendio del servizio nazionale non riuscirò mai a costruirmi un futuro”. L’ha detto, si è sbilanciato, ha superato la cortina di silenzio imposta dalla paura di un arresto.

      Eppure le sue parole non sanno di protesta. In Eritrea è vietato protestare. Ci si arrangia e quando non ce la si fa, s’impara a sopportare la fame. Chi scappa dal regime di Isaias Afewerki, l’ex guerrigliero che combatté per l’indipendenza dell’Eritrea e dal 1993 Presidente-dittatore, in patria è un traditore. E lo è anche per chi resta, almeno nelle conversazioni in pubblico.

      In Eritrea è difficile sentirsi al sicuro dagli occhi e le orecchie indiscreti del sistema. La connessione dati sul cellulare non esiste, e per connettersi alla rete tocca comprare qualche giga in uno degli internet point dove la massa di corpi non lascia spazio alla privacy. “La rete di informatori è fittissima” ci dice un ex giornalista che nel 2009, in quella che nel paese è passata alla storia come la seconda tornata più importante di repressione politica per via di arresti eccellenti contro la stampa, lasciò Asmara. Da allora è in una sorta di ritiro nella sua capanna di zinco alla periferia di Massawa. La città sul Mar Rosso che a fine Ottocento fu anche la capitale della colonia italiana, ancora oggi si presenta come un teatro post-bellico. Sul viale principale alcuni ragazzi scattano selfie davanti ai quattro carri armati etiopi, che gli eritrei catturarono durante la guerra di Liberazione che si protrasse dal 1961 per trenta anni. Nel centro città gli edifici di epoca romana sono distrutti e abbandonati. Una legge ne impedisce l’occupazione. Tutto intorno i corvi fanno da padrone sulle bidonville dove la gente comune vive. Solo i camion che trasportano i metalli preziosi, e fanno la spola tra il porto e la capitale, restituiscono un senso di vitalità.

      Nonostante la fine della guerra fredda con l’Etiopia, la politica di repressione del Presidente Afewerki a livello domestico è rimasta identica a sé stessa. Il servizio nazionale a tempo indefinito è ancora in vigore, e nessun prigioniero politico è stato rilasciato. Nessuna notizia si ha ancora dei politici e dei giornalisti arrestati nel corso di una retata nel 2001, né del Ministero delle Finanze, Berhane Abreh, arrestato nel settembre del 2018 dopo aver pubblicato un libro con cui esortava i giovani eritrei a manifestare per uno stato di diritto in patria.

      “La pace esterna” la chiamano gli eritrei all’estero, commentando l’accordo di pace che Asmara ha firmato con Addis Abeba. E gli eritrei continuano a scappare dalla fame prima, e dalle torture nelle carceri poi. Non si contano le migliaia di eritrei in prigione. Una sorta di gioco a ‘guardia e ladri’ in cui uomini e donne poco più che adolescenti vengono chiamati a servire il paese, accettano, resistono anni patendo stenti e umiliazioni, poi scappano, vengono riacciuffati, restano per qualche anno in galera, vengono rimessi in libertà ma a condizione di tornare a servire il paese. Tornano a lavorare per lo Stato, anche nelle miniere lungo la costa dove società straniere rivendicano estraneità allo sfruttamento dei lavoratori rimandando ogni responsabilità al Governo di Asmara, loro partner ufficiale. Dopo qualche anno di servizio, gli stessi già precedentemente arrestati, fuggono per essere nuovamente riacciuffati. Ancora anni di prigione, torture e poi rimessi in libertà. A questo punto però hanno messo su famiglia, non ce la fanno a dare da mangiare ai propri figli con quanto garantisce lo Stato durante il servizio, e quindi decidono che è arrivato il momento di scappare. Una volta non pervenuti al servizio, sono le loro mogli o i loro figli ad essere cercati e imprigionati. Uno schema sempre identico a sé stesso. Secondo il rapporto 2019 di Human Rights Watch (HRW) sull’Eritrea, il servizio nazionale infinito è da considerarsi alla stregua di una forma di schiavitù, e rimane il motivo principale di fuga dal Paese.

      Quando il regime di Afewerki ha aperto il confine con l’Etiopia nel settembre del 2018, il numero delle persone in fuga, alla ricerca di asilo nel paese confinante, si è quadruplicato, secondo il rapporto della Commissione Europea per la Protezione Civile Europea e le Operazioni di Sostegno Umanitario (ECHO).

      Nei campi profughi a Nord dell’Etiopia, organizzazioni non governative e agenzie internazionali hanno dovuto tirare su decine di migliaia di baracche in alluminio nuove di zecca per far fronte al grande esodo. Questo perché al momento della firma dell’accordo di pace, il regime di Asmara non ha fatto alcun cenno alla revoca dello stato di emergenza o al ripristino dei 18 mesi per il servizio nazionale, né al rilascio dei prigionieri politici all’indomani della firma dell’accordo di pace con l’Etiopia.

      “Da settimane Asmara ha chiuso di nuovo la frontiera di Humera e gli eritrei scappano a nuoto come prima” commenta già in aprile uno dei trafficanti ad Humera, città etiope al confine con l’Etiopia e il Sudan. Accovacciato sulla riva del fiume Tekeze che disegna il confine tra i tre paesi, osserva un uomo che da ore fa la spola tra la sponda eritrea, a Nord, e quella etiope. Un eritreo – ci spiega – è andato disperso mentre tentava di attraversare il fiume. E uno dei passatori ora cerca il suo corpo perché sua madre ha promesso una ricompensa per chi riuscirà a restituirglielo.

      Lungo il fiume Takaze sono un paio le squadre di passatori, ognuna ha un capo che decide di volta in volta a chi tocca affrontare la traghettata. Con una mano impegnata nella presa sulla zattera fatta di taniche legate con dello spago, i passatori nuotano contro corrente da una sponda all’altra del fiume solo con un braccio.

      Nei giorni in cui il valico di frontiera a Humera era aperto, centinaia di eritrei si sono accalcati lungo le sponde del fiume Tekeze. “Pagavano fino a 300 dollari per ognuno” dice uno dei passatori del Tekeze. “Dicevano di non voler stare nei campi qui in Etiopia, e puntavano al Sudan, poi Libia. Insomma avevano fretta di raggiungere l’Europa” ricorda l’uomo. “Comunque ora la frontiera qui è chiusa, e pure in Libia non si passa” spiega il passatore del Tekeze.

      All’imbrunire un ragazzo sopraggiunge con una coppia tra le rocce in riva al fiume, scambia poche battute con il trafficante di turno e si dilegua. “E’ uno degli smuggler eritrei che lavorano in zona, e quei due che sono saliti sulla zattera sono eritrei in fuga. Vanno in Sudan” spiega a bassa voce uno dei Caronte del Tekeze mentre mastica del tumbako, droga locale molto popolare.

      Nel campo Mai Aini, uno dei tanti che segnano il confine tra Eritrea e Etiopia, un uomo racconta le torture subite in prigione per aver defezionato dopo sette anni di servizio nazionale come militare al confine. “Sono rimasto sul fronte per sette anni, poi sono scappato. Mi hanno preso e buttato in prigione per cinque anni” dice Mikael mostrando i segni di tortura subiti durante la detenzione. Unghie strappate, frustate sulla schiena fanno parte della lunga lista di torture subite, ricorda mentre resta seduto sul gradino della sua casa nel campo, mentre sua moglie allatta la loro bimba di un mese, nata nella casetta di fango e paglia in cui vivono da alcuni mesi.

      A fare da cordone intorno ai rifugiati resta la comunità locale etiope. Nel Tigrai la popolazione fa parte della stessa etnia degli eritrei, tutti tigrini appunto. All’indomani del grande plauso da parte della comunità internazionale nei confronti del primo ministro Abiy Ahmed Ali per lo storico accordo di pace, qui la solidarietà verso i fratelli eritrei passa per una più complessa lotta per il potere tra le varie etnie nella capitale di Addis Abeba. Abiy fa parte dell’etnia degli oromo mentre il suo predecessore, l’ex premier Hailé Mariàm Desalegn, è un tigrino. Quest’ultimo fu costretto a dimettersi in seguito allo scoppio di violente rivolte da parte degli oromo, etnia di maggioranza nel paese. Nel nord del Paese la scorsa estate si sono registrati omicidi eccellenti di uomini vicini al nuovo primo ministro. E quando lo scorso ottobre, il braccio destro di Abiy, Jawar Mohammed, ha denunciato di essere scampato ad un attentato, gli oromo sono scesi in strada a suo sostegno, e da lì a poco anche i tigrini hanno occupato le piazze in diverse città. La tensione è degenerata in scontri in cui sono morti 67 manifestanti.

      “Come fa il primo ministro a stringere la mano ad un dittatore come Afewerki?” ci chiede un ragazzo molto giovane che da anni lavora come guida turistica a Shirè, una delle città più importanti del Tigrai. Tra i rifugiati eritrei serpeggia la paura che l’accordo di pace possa di fatto tradursi in una revisione del loro status di rifugiati in Etiopia.

      Tuttavia negli ultimi mesi i numeri dei nuovi arrivi in Tigrai si sono significativamente ridotti. Da aprile tutti i confini restano chiusi. Neanche i camion merci passano più. E la sensazione di asfissia torna ad impadronirsi delle strade in stile modernista di Asmara, mentre l’Unione Europea decide che la firma dell’accordo di pace con l’Etiopia basti come prova da parte del Governo di Afewerki di aver cambiato pagina, e di aver finalmente operato la svolta progressista che ci si attendeva. Fondi firmati EU sono stati già stanziati per realizzazione di grandi opere in Eritrea. Evidente l’Unione Europea aspettava l’occasione per riconciliarsi con il dittatore, anche al costo dell’oblio delle centinaia di storie di uomini e donne che da vent’anni fuggono torture e inenarrabili sofferenze.

      https://openmigration.org/analisi/fuggire-la-pace-leritrea-ad-un-anno-dallo-storico-accordo-di-pace-con

    • L’espoir renaît dans la Corne de l’Afrique

      En juin 2018, fraîchement élu, le Premier ministre éthiopien #Abiy_Ahmed annonce accepter l’#accord_frontalier signé avec l’Érythrée en 2000. Cette décision historique met un terme à deux décennies d’hostilités. Une décision saluée par la communauté internationale et couronnée cette année par le prix Nobel de la paix.

      Après l’indépendance officielle de l’Érythrée en 1993, les tensions avec l’Éthiopie se cristallisent en 1998 à la frontière entre les deux pays, dont le tracé reste flou : l’Éthiopie accuse son voisin d’avoir violé son territoire en envahissant la petite ville de #Badmé. La guerre est déclarée, causant près de 80’000 morts. L’accord de paix signé en 2000 à Alger se révèle précaire, et deux ans plus tard, la commission indépendante chargée de délimiter une nouvelle frontière attribue la bourgade symbolique de Badmé à l’Érythrée. En premier lieu, l’Éthiopie rejette ces conclusions, continuant ainsi à alimenter les tensions. Un revirement de situation s’opère en juin 2018 lorsque, fraîchement élu (début avril), le Premier ministre éthiopien, Abiy Ahmed, annonce renoncer à Badmé et accepter l’accord frontalier. Cette décision historique, qui a mis un terme à deux décennies d’hostilités, est saluée par la communauté internationale, et couronnée par l’attribution du prix Nobel de la paix cette année.
      Le documentariste Thomas Aders explore les rouages et les enjeux d’un processus de pacification aussi complexe que fragile, qui fait souffler un vent d’espoir sur la Corne de l’Afrique.

      https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/085424-000-A/l-espoir-renait-dans-la-corne-de-l-afrique
      #film #documentaire

  • Eritrea-Ethiopia border closed amid escalating tension

    “Currently, the situation in Eritrea is reminiscent of the pre-1998 border war period when the war of words and public agitation was at its highest. Now, taking advantage of the proliferation of social media, the agitation is being escalated on a daily basis.”

    Ethio-Eritrean Border: Haphazardly Opened Erratically Closed

    A little over three months after it was haphazardly opened, the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border was closed from the Eritrean side which now requires Ethiopians to have entry permits. The decision to close the border was passed to the Eritrean border guards on Christmas Eve.

    The Eritrean side didn’t explain the change of policy and now requires permits issued by the Federal Ethiopian Government. Similarly, Ethiopian authorities stated they have no official information regarding the Eritrean decisión.

    The border remained closed since the two countries went to war between 1998-2000, a gruesome war in which over a hundred thousand people were killed. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their villages and some of them still live in makeshift camps.

    Until recently, the borders were guarded by soldiers who were on a shoot-to-kill order. Many Eritreans escaping the country to avoid the indefinite military service, poor employment prospects, and severe violations of human rights, were shot and killed while crossing the border.

    However, since September 10, a border crossing checkpoint at Zalambessa-Serha, in the central region, was opened following the agreement between Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea and the Ethiopian prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. People and goods were allowed to move across the border freely with no permits or visas.

    Immediately after the border was opened, thousands of Eritreans rushed to Ethiopia to take advantage of the border opening either to travel further and join family members in foreign lands, or in search of better employment and educational prospects for themselves.

    At the same time, Ethiopians crowded the streets of Eritrean cities as tourists, or to meet long-separated family members, while merchants flooded the markets that suffered from an acute shortage of different merchandise.

    Another border crossing checkpoint that was briefly opened between the Ethiopian town of Humera and the Eritrean town of Um-Hajer over the Tekezze River was closed on the beginning of August 2018.

    Still another crossing point at Bure south of the Eritrean port of Assab is either closed or open depending on unpredictable intermittent decisions by the Eritrean authorities.

    The border also has also faced problems related to Exchange rates between the currencies of the two countries since neither of the two governments had planned for it ahead of time.

    Since the border opened, over 30,000 Eritreans have crossed to Ethiopia on a one-way journey.

    The reason for the two days old decision by Eritrea is believed to have been triggered by the attempt on the life of general Sebhat’s on December 19, 2018. Dozens of colonels and other lower rank officers suspected of being part of a plot to overthrow Isaias Afwki’s government have been arrested. Their fate is still unknown.

    Over the last few days, PFDJ trolls on social media have accused the TPLF of being behind the plot to “disrupt Eritrean security” and of masterminding the attempt on general Sebhat Efrem’s life.

    Currently, the situation in Eritrea is reminiscent of the pre-1998 border war period when the war of words and public agitation was at its highest. Now, taking advantage of the proliferation of social media, the agitation is being escalated on a daily basis.

    Both the Eritrean government and the Ethiopian federal government are waging relentless media wars and exerting political pressure on the TPLF of Tigray region, which occupies most of the area between the two countries.

    https://eritreahub.org/eritrea-ethiopia-border-closed-amid-escalating-tension
    #fermeture_des_frontières #frontières #Erythrée #Ethiopie #conflit

    Re-fermeture de cette frontière, après un petit moment d’espoir, il y a quelques mois :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/721926

  • #métaliste (qui va être un grand chantier, car il y a plein d’information sur seenthis, qu’il faudrait réorganiser) sur :
    #externalisation #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #migrations #réfugiés

    Des liens vers des articles généraux sur l’externalisation des frontières de la part de l’ #UE (#EU) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/569305
    https://seenthis.net/messages/390549
    https://seenthis.net/messages/320101

    Ici une tentative (très mal réussie, car évidement, la divergence entre pratiques et les discours à un moment donné, ça se voit !) de l’UE de faire une brochure pour déconstruire les mythes autour de la migration...
    La question de l’externalisation y est abordée dans différentes parties de la brochure :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/765967

    Petit chapitre/encadré sur l’externalisation des frontières dans l’ouvrage « (Dé)passer la frontière » :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/769367

    Les origines de l’externalisation des contrôles frontaliers (maritimes) : accord #USA-#Haïti de #1981 :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/768694

    L’externalisation des politiques européennes en matière de migration
    https://seenthis.net/messages/787450

    "#Sous-traitance" de la #politique_migratoire en Afrique : l’Europe a-t-elle les mains propres ?
    https://seenthis.net/messages/789048

    Partners in crime ? The impacts of Europe’s outsourced migration controls on peace, stability and rights :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/794636
    #paix #stabilité #droits #Libye #Niger #Turquie

  • Eritrea-Etiopia – Si tratta la pace ad Addis Abeba

    Una delegazione eritrea di alto livello è arrivata in Etiopia per il primo round di negoziati di pace in vent’anni. Il ministro degli Esteri eritreo Osman Sale è stato accolto in aeroporto dal neo premier etiopico Abiy Ahmed che, ai primi di giugno, ha sorpreso il Paese dichiarando di accettare l’Accordo di pace del 2000 che poneva fine alla guerra con l’Eritrea.

    L’Accordo, nonostante la fine dei combattimenti nel 2000, non è mai stato applicato e i rapporti tra i due Paesi sono rimasti tesi. Etiopia ed Eritrea non hanno relazioni diplomatiche e negli ultimi anni ci sono stati ripetute schermaglie militari al confine.


    https://www.africarivista.it/eritrea-etiopia-si-tratta-la-pace-ad-addis-abeba/125465
    #paix #Ethiopie #Erythrée #processus_de_paix

    • Peace Deal Alone Will Not Stem Flow of Eritrean Refugees

      The detente with Ethiopia has seen Eritrea slash indefinite military conscription. Researcher Cristiano D’Orsi argues that without a breakthrough on human rights, Eritreans will still flee.

      Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a historic agreement to end the 20-year conflict between the two countries. The breakthrough has been widely welcomed given the devastating effects the conflict has had on both countries as well as the region.

      The tension between the two countries led to Eritrea taking steps that were to have a ripple effect across the region – and the world. One in particular, the conscription of young men, has had a particularly wide impact.

      Two years before formal cross-border conflict broke out in 1998, the Eritrean government took steps to maintain a large standing army to push back against Ethiopia’s occupation of Eritrean territories. Initially, troops were supposed to assemble and train for a period of 18 months as part of their national service. But, with the breakout of war, the service, which included both military personnel and civilians, was extended. All Eritrean men between the ages of 18–50 have to serve in the army for more than 20 years.

      This policy has been given as the reason for large numbers of Eritreans fleeing the country. The impact of the policy on individuals, and families, has been severe. For example, there have been cases of multiple family members being conscripted at the same time. This denied them the right to enjoy a stable family life. Children were the most heavily affected.

      It’s virtually impossible for Eritreans to return once they have left as refugees because the Eritrean government doesn’t look kindly on repatriated returnees. Those who are forced to return to the country face persecution and human rights abuses.

      In 2017, Eritreans represented the ninth-largest refugee population in the world with 486,200 people forcibly displaced. By May 2018, Eritreans represented 5 percent of the migrants who disembarked on the northern shores of the Mediterranean.

      Things look set to change, however. The latest batch of national service recruits have been told their enlistment will last no longer than 18 months. The announcement came in the midst of the dramatic thawing of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has raised hopes that the service could be terminated altogether.

      With that said, it remains to be seen whether the end of hostilities between the two countries will ultimately stem the flow of Eritrean refugees.

      It’s virtually impossible for Eritreans to return once they have left as refugees because the Eritrean government doesn’t look kindly on repatriated returnees. Those who are forced to return to the country face persecution and human rights abuses.

      The Eritrean government’s hardline position has led to changes in refugee policies in countries like the UK. For example, in October 2016, a U.K. appellate tribunal held that Eritreans of draft age who left the country illegally would face the risk of persecution and abuse if they were involuntarily returned to Eritrea.

      This, the tribunal said, was in direct violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result, the U.K.’s Home Office amended its immigration policy to conform to the tribunal’s ruling.

      Eritrean asylum seekers haven’t been welcome everywhere. For a long time they were persona non grata in Israel on the grounds that absconding national service duty was not justification for asylum. But in September 2016, an Israeli appeals court held that Eritreans must be given the chance to explain their reasons for fleeing at individual hearings, overruling an interior ministry policy that denied asylum to deserters.

      The situation is particularly tense for Eritreans in Israel because they represent the majority of African asylum seekers in the country. In fact, in May 2018, Israel and the United Nations refugee agency began negotiating a deal to repatriate African asylum seekers in western countries, with Canada as a primary destination.

      An earlier deal had fallen through after public pressure reportedly caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to back out of it.

      Eritreans living as refugees in Ethiopia have been welcomed in Australia where they are one among eight nationalities that have access to a resettlement scheme known as the community support program. This empowers Australian individuals, community organizations and businesses to offer Eritrean refugees jobs if they have the skills, allowing them to settle permanently in the country.

      The government has always denied that conscription has anything to do with Eritreans fleeing the country. Two years ago it made it clear that it would not shorten the length of the mandatory national service.

      At the time officials said Eritreans were leaving the country because they were being enticed by certain “pull factors.” They argued, for example, that the need for low cost manpower in the West could easily be met by giving asylum to Eritreans who needed just to complain about the National Service to obtain asylum.

      But change is on the cards. After signing the peace deal with Ethiopia, Eritrea has promised to end the current conscription regime and announcing that national service duty will last no more than 18 months.

      Even so, the national service is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future to fulfil other parts of its mandate which are reconstructing the country, strengthening the economy, and developing a joint Eritrean identity across ethnic and religious lines.

      Eritrea is still a country facing enormous human rights violations. According to the last Freedom House report, the Eritrean government has made no recent effort to address these. The report accuses the regime of continuing to perpetrate crimes against humanity.

      If Eritrea pays more attention to upholding human rights, fewer nationals will feel the need to flee. And if change comes within Eritrean borders as fast as it did with Ethiopia, a radical shift in human rights policy could be in the works.

      https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/08/09/peace-deal-alone-will-not-stem-flow-of-eritrean-refugees

      #asile #réfugiés

    • Eritrea has slashed conscription. Will it stem the flow of refugees?

      Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed an historic agreement to end the 20-year conflict between the two countries. The breakthrough has been widely welcomed given the devastating effects the conflict has had on both countries as well as the region.

      The tension between the two countries led to Eritrea taking steps that were to have a ripple effect across the region – and the world. One in particular, the conscription of young men, has had a particularly wide impact.

      Two years before formal cross border conflict broke out in 1998, the Eritrean government took steps to maintain a large standing army to push back against Ethiopia’s occupation of Eritrean territories. Initially, troops were supposed to assemble and train for a period of 18 months as part of their national service. But, with the breakout of war, the service, which included both military personnel and civilians, was extended. All Eritrean men between the ages of 18 – 50 have to serve in the army for more than 20 years.

      This policy has been given as the reason for large numbers of Eritreans fleeing the country. The impact of the policy on individuals, and families, has been severe. For example, there have been cases of multiple family members being conscripted at the same time. This denied them the right to enjoy a stable family life. Children were the most heavily affected.

      In 2017, Eritreans represented the ninth-largest refugee population in the world with 486,200 people forcibly displaced. By May 2018 Eritreans represented 5% of the migrants who disembarked on the northern shores of the Mediterranean.

      Things look set to change, however. The latest batch of national service recruits have been told their enlistment will last no longer than 18 months. The announcement came in the midst of the dramatic thawing of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has raised hopes that the service could be terminated altogether.

      With that said, it remains to be seen whether the end of hostilities between the two countries will ultimately stem the flow of Eritrean refugees.
      The plight of Eritrean refugees

      It’s virtually impossible for Eritreans to return once they have left as refugees because the Eritrean government doesn’t look kindly on repatriated returnees. Those who are forced to return to the country face persecution and human rights abuses.

      The Eritrean government’s hard line position has led to changes in refugee policies in countries like the UK. For example, in October 2016 a UK appellate tribunal held that Eritreans of draft age who left the country illegally would face the risk of persecution and abuse if they were involuntarily returned to Eritrea.

      This, the tribunal said, was in direct violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result, the UK’s Home Office amended its immigration policy to conform to the tribunal’s ruling.

      Eritrean asylum seekers haven’t been welcome everywhere. For a long time they were persona non grata in Israel on the grounds that absconding national service duty was not justification for asylum. But in September 2016 an Israeli appeals court held that Eritreans must be given the chance to explain their reasons for fleeing at individual hearings, overruling an interior ministry policy that denied asylum to deserters.

      The situation is particularly tense for Eritreans in Israel because they represent the majority of African asylum-seekers in the country. In fact, in May 2018, Israel and the United Nations refugee agency began negotiating a deal to repatriate African asylum-seekers in western countries, with Canada as a primary destination.

      An earlier deal had fallen through after public pressure reportedly caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to back out of it.

      Eritreans living as refugees in Ethiopia have been welcomed in Australia where they are one among eight nationalities that have access to a resettlement scheme known as the community support programme. This empowers Australian individuals, community organisations and businesses to offer Eritrean refugees jobs if they have the skills, allowing them to settle permanently in the country.
      The future

      The government has always denied that conscription has anything to do with Eritreans fleeing the country. Two years ago it made it clear that it would not shorten the length of the mandatory national service.

      At the time officials said Eritreans were leaving the country because they were being enticed by certain “pull factors”. They argued, for example, that the need for low cost manpower in the West could easily be met by giving asylum to Eritreans who needed just to complain about the National Service to obtain asylum.

      But change is on the cards. After signing the peace deal with Ethiopia, Eritrea has promised to end the current conscription regime and announcing that national service duty will last no more than 18 months.

      Even so, the national service is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future to fulfil other parts of its mandate which are reconstructing the country, strengthening he economy, and developing a joint Eritrean identity across ethnic and religious lines.

      Eritrea is still a country facing enormous human rights violations. According to the last Freedom House report, the Eritrean government has made no recent effort to address these. The report accuses the regime of continuing to perpetrate crimes against humanity.

      If Eritrea pays more attention to upholding human rights, fewer nationals will feel the need to flee. And if change comes within Eritrean borders as fast as it did with Ethiopia, a radical shift in human rights policy could be in the works.

      https://theconversation.com/eritrea-has-slashed-conscription-will-it-stem-the-flow-of-refugees-

      #conscription #service_militaire #armée

    • Out of Eritrea: What happens after #Badme?

      On 6 June 2018, the government of Ethiopia announced that it would abide by the Algiers Agreement and 2002 Eritrea-Ethiopian Boundary Commission decision that defined the disputed border and granted the border town of Badme to Eritrea. Over the last 20 years, Badme has been central to the dispute between the two countries, following Ethiopia’s rejection of the ruling and continued occupation of the area. Ethiopia’s recently appointed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged that the dispute over Badme had resulted in 20 years of tension between the two countries. To defend the border areas with Ethiopia, in 1994 the Eritrean government introduced mandatory military service for all adults over 18. Eritrean migrants and asylum seekers often give their reason for flight as the need to escape this mandatory national service.

      Since 2015, Eritreans have been the third largest group of people entering Europe through the Mediterranean, and have the second highestnumber of arrivals through the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. According to UNHCR, by the end of 2016, 459,390 Eritreans were registered refugees in various countries worldwide. Various sources estimate Eritrea’s population at 5 million people, meaning that approximately 10% of Eritrea’s population has sought refuge abroad by 2016.
      Mandatory military service – a driver of migration and displacement

      As data collection from the Mixed Migration Centre’s Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative (4Mi) shows, 95% of Eritrean refugees and migrants surveyed gave fear of conscription into national service as their main reason for flight out of Eritrea. Men and women from 18 to 40 years old are required by law to undertake national service for 18 months — including six months of military training followed by 12 months’ deployment either in military service or in other government entities including farms, construction sites, mines and ministries.
      In reality, national service for most conscripts extends beyond the 18 months and often indefinite. There are also reported cases of children under 18 years old being forcefully recruited. Even upon completion of national service, Eritreans under the age of 50 years may been enrolled in the Reserve Army with the duty to provide reserve military service and defend the country from external attacks or invasions.

      According to Human Rights Watch, conscripts are subject to military discipline and are harshly treated and earn a salary that often ranges between USD 43 – 48 per month. The length of service is unpredictable, the type of abuse inflicted on conscripts is at the whim of military commanders and the UN Commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea reported on the frequent sexual abuse of female conscripts. Eritrea has no provision for conscientious objection to national service and draft evaders and deserters if arrested are subjected to heavy punishment according to Amnesty International, including lengthy periods of detention, torture and other forms of inhuman treatment including rape for women. For those who escape, relatives are forced to pay fines of 50,000 Nakfa (USD 3,350) for each family member. Failure to pay the fine may result in the arrest and detention of a family member until the money is paid which further fuels flight from Eritrea for families who are unable to pay the fine.

      The government of Eritrea asserts that compulsory and indefinite national service is necessitated by continued occupation of its sovereign territories citing Ethiopia as the main threat. In its response to the UN Human Rights Council Report that criticised Eritrea for human rights violations including indefinite conscription, Eritrea stated that one of its main constraints to the fulfilment of its international and national obligations in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is the continued occupation of its territory by Ethiopia.

      In 2016, Eritrea’s minister for Information confirmed that indefinite national service would remain without fundamental changes even in the wake of increased flight from the country by citizens unwilling to undertake the service. The Minister went on to state that Eritrea would contemplate demobilization upon the removal of the ‘main threat’, in this case Eritrea’s hostile relationship with Ethiopia. Eritrea and Ethiopia have both traded accusations of supporting opposition/militia groups to undermine each other both locally and abroad. If the relations between the countries turn peaceful, this could potentially have an impact on Eritrean migration, out of the country and out of the region.

      In the absence of hostilities and perceived security threats from its neighbour, it is possible that Eritrea will amend – or at least be open to start a dialogue about amending – its national service (and military) policies from the current mandatory and indefinite status, which has been one of the major root causes of the movement of Eritreans out of their country and onwards towards Europe. Related questions are whether an improvement in the relations with Ethiopia could also bring an immediate or longer term improvement in the socio-economic problems that Eritrea faces, for example through expanded trade relations between the two countries? Will this change usher in an era of political stability and an easing of military burdens on the Eritrean population?
      A possible game changer?

      The border deal, if it materialises, could at some time also have serious implications for Eritrean asylum seekers in Europe. Eritreans applying for asylum have relatively high approval rates. The high recognition rate for Eritrean asylum seekers is based on the widely accepted presumptionthat Eritreans who evade or avoid national service are at risk of persecution. In 2016 for example, 93% of Eritreans who sought asylum in EU countries received a positive decision. This recognition rate was second to Syrians and ahead of Iraqis and Somalis; all countries that are in active conflict unlike Eritrea. If the government of Eritrea enacts positive policy changes regarding conscription, the likely effect could be a much lower recognition rate for Eritrean asylum seekers. It is unclear how this would affect those asylum seekers already in the system.

      While Eritreans on the route to Europe and in particular those arriving in Italy, remain highly visible and receive most attention, many Eritreans who leave the country end up in refugee camps or Eritrean enclaves in neighbouring countries like Sudan and Ethiopia or further away in Egypt. After they flee, most Eritreans initially apply for refugee status in Ethiopia’s and Sudan’s refugee camps. As Human Rights Watch noted in 2016, the Eritrean camp population generally remains more or less stable. While many seek onward movements out of the camps, many refugees remain in the region. With these potentially new developments in Eritrea, will the Eritreans in Sudan, Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries feel encouraged or compelled to return at some, or will they perhaps be forced to return to Eritrea?
      What’s next?

      Conservative estimates in 2001 put the cost of the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia at USD 2.9 billion in just the first three years. This has had an adverse effect on the economies of the two countries as well as human rights conditions. In 2013, Eritrea expressed its willingness to engage in dialogue with Ethiopia should it withdraw its army from the disputed territory which it further noted is occupied by 300,000 soldiers from both countries. Ethiopia has previously stated its willingness to surrender Badme, without in the end acting upon this promise. Should this latest promise be implemented and ties between two countries normalized, this might herald positive developments for both the economy and the human rights situation in both countries, with a potential significant impact on one of the major drivers of movement out of Eritrea.

      However, with the news that Ethiopia would move to define its borders in accordance with international arbitration, the possibilities for political stability and economic growth in Eritrea remain uncertain. On 21 June 2018, the President of Eritrea Isaias Aferwerki issued a statement saying that Eritrea would send a delegation to Addis Ababa to ‘gauge current developments… chart out a plan for continuous future action’. The possibility of resulting peace and economic partnership between the two countries could, although a long-term process, also result in economic growth on both sides of the border and increased livelihood opportunities for their citizens who routinely engage in unsafe and irregular migration for political, humanitarian and economic reasons.

      http://www.mixedmigration.org/articles/out-of-eritrea

    • Despite the peace deal with Ethiopia, Eritrean refugees are still afraid to return home

      When Samuel Berhe thinks of Eritrea, he sees the sand-colored buildings and turquoise water of Asmara’s shoreline. He sees his sister’s bar under the family home in the capital’s center that sells sweet toast and beer. He sees his father who, at 80 years old, is losing his eyesight but is still a force to be reckoned with. He thinks of his home, a place that he cannot reach.

      Berhe, like many other Eritreans, fled the country some years ago to escape mandatory national service, which the government made indefinite following the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia. The war cost the countries an estimated 100,000 lives, while conscription created a generation of Eritrean refugees. The UNHCR said that in 2016 there were 459,000 Eritrean exiles out of an estimated population of 5.3 million.

      So, when the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a sudden peace deal in July 2018, citizens of the Horn of Africa nations rejoiced. Many took to the streets bearing the two flags. Others chose social media to express their happiness, and some even dialed up strangers, as phone lines between the nations were once again reinstated. It felt like a new era of harmony and prosperity had begun.

      But for Berhe, the moment was bittersweet.

      “I was happy because it is good for our people but I was also sad, because it doesn’t make any change for me,” he said from his home in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “I will stay as a refugee.”

      Like many other Eritrean emigrants, Berhe fled the country illegally to escape national service. He fears that if he returns, he will wind up in jail, or worse. He does not have a passport and has not left Ethiopia since he arrived on the back of a cargo truck 13 years ago. His two daughters, Sarah, 9, and Ella, 11, for whom he is an only parent, have never seen their grandparents or their father’s homeland.

      Now that there is a direct flight, Berhe is planning on sending the girls to see their relatives. But before he considers returning, he will need some sort of guarantee from Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki, who leads the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, that he will pardon those who left.

      “The people that illegally escaped, the government thinks that we are traitors,” he said. “There are many, many like me, all over the world, too afraid to go back.”

      Still, hundreds fought to board the first flights between the two capitals throughout July and August. Asmara’s and Addis Ababa’s airports became symbols of the reunification as hordes of people awaited their relatives with bouquets daily, some whom they hadn’t seen for more than two decades.

      “When I see the people at the airport, smiling, laughing, reuniting with their family, I wish to be like them. To be free. They are lucky,” Berhe said.

      Related: Chronic insomnia plagues young migrants long after they reach their destination

      Zala Mekonnen, 38, an Eritrean Canadian, who was one of the many waiting at arrivals in Addis Ababa, said she had completely given up on the idea that the two nations — formerly one country — would ever rekindle relations.

      Mekonnen, who is half Ethiopian, found the 20-year feud especially difficult as her family was separated in half. In July, her mother saw her uncle for the first time in 25 years.

      “We’re happy but hopefully he’s [Afwerki] going to let those young kids free [from conscription],” she said. “I’m hoping God will hear, because so many of them died while trying to escape. One full generation lost.”

      Related: A life of statelessness derailed this Eritrean runner’s hopes to compete in the Olympics

      Mekonnen called the peace deal with Ethiopia a crucial step towards Eritrean democracy. But Afwerki, the 72-year-old ex-rebel leader, will also have to allow multiple political parties to exist, along with freedom of religion, freedom of speech and reopening Asmara’s public university while also giving young people opportunities outside of national service.

      “The greeting that Afwerki received here in Ethiopia [following the agreement to restore relations], he didn’t deserve it,” said Mekonnen. “He should have been hung.”

      Since the rapprochement, Ethiopia’s leader, Abiy Ahmed, has reached out to exiled opposition groups, including those in Eritrea, to open up a political dialogue. The Eritrean president has not made similar efforts. But in August, his office announced that he would visit Ethiopia for a second time to discuss the issue of rebels.

      Laura Hammond, a professor of developmental studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said that it is likely Afwerki will push for Ethiopia to send Eritrean refugees seeking asylum back to Eritrea.

      “The difficulty is that, while the two countries are normalizing relations, the political situation inside Eritrea is not changing as rapidly,” Hammond said. “There are significant fears about what will happen to those who have left the country illegally, including in some cases escaping from prison or from their national service bases. They will need to be offered amnesty if they are to feel confident about returning.”

      To voice their frustrations, thousands of exiled Eritreans gathered in protest outside the UN headquarters in Geneva on Aug. 31. Amid chants of “enough is enough” and “down, down Isaias,” attendees held up placards calling for peace and democracy. The opposition website, Harnnet, wrote that while the rapprochement with Ethiopia was welcomed, regional and global politicians were showing “undeserved sympathy” to a power that continued to violate human rights.

      Sitting in front of the TV, Berhe’s two daughters sip black tea and watch a religious parade broadcast on Eritrea’s national channel. Berhe, who has temporary refugee status in Ethiopia, admits that one thing that the peace deal has changed is that the state’s broadcaster no longer airs perpetual scenes of war. For now, he is safe in Addis Ababa with his daughters, but he is eager to obtain a sponsor in the US, Europe or Australia, so that he can resettle and provide them with a secure future. He is afraid that landlocked Ethiopia might cave to pressures from the Eritrean government to return its refugees in exchange for access to the Red Sea port.

      “Meanwhile my girls say to me, ’Why don’t we go for summer holiday in Asmara?’” he laughs. “They don’t understand my problem.”


      https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-09-13/despite-peace-deal-ethiopia-eritrean-refugees-are-still-afraid-return-home

    • Etiopia: firmato ad Asmara accordo di pace fra governo e Fronte nazionale di liberazione dell’#Ogaden

      Asmara, 22 ott 09:51 - (Agenzia Nova) - Il governo dell’Etiopia e i ribelli del Fronte nazionale di liberazione dell’Ogaden (#Onlf) hanno firmato un accordo di pace nella capitale eritrea Asmara per porre fine ad una delle più antiche lotte armate in Etiopia. L’accordo, si legge in una nota del ministero degli Esteri di Addis Abeba ripresa dall’emittente “Fana”, è stato firmato da una delegazione del governo etiope guidata dal ministro degli Esteri Workneh Gebeyehu e dal presidente dell’Onlf, Mohamed Umer Usman, i quali hanno tenuto un colloquio definito “costruttivo” e hanno raggiunto un “accordo storico” che sancisce “l’inizio di un nuovo capitolo di pace e stabilità in Etiopia”. L’Onlf, gruppo separatista fondato nel 1984, è stato etichettato come organizzazione terrorista dal governo etiope fino al luglio scorso, quando il parlamento di Addis Abeba ha ratificato la decisione del governo di rimuovere i partiti in esilio – tra cui appunto l’Onlf – dalla lista delle organizzazioni terroristiche. La decisione rientra nella serie di provvedimenti annunciati dal premier Abiy Ahmed per avviare il percorso di riforme nel paese, iniziato con il rilascio di migliaia di prigionieri politici, la distensione delle relazioni con l’Eritrea e la parziale liberalizzazione dell’economia etiope.

      https://www.agenzianova.com/a/5bcd9c24083997.87051681/2142476/2018-10-22/etiopia-firmato-ad-asmara-accordo-di-pace-fra-governo-e-fronte-nazional

    • UN: No Rights Progress in Eritrea After Peace Deal With Ethiopia

      U.N. experts say Eritrea’s human rights record has not changed for the better since the government signed a peace agreement with Ethiopia last year, formally ending a two decades-long border conflict. The U.N. Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue on the current situation in Eritrea this week.

      After a 20-year military stalemate with Ethiopia, hopes were high that the peace accord would change Eritrea’s human rights landscape for the better.

      U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore said that has not happened. She said Eritrea has missed a historic opportunity because the government has not implemented urgently needed judicial, constitutional and economic reforms.

      She said the continued use of indefinite national service remains a major human rights concern.

      “Conscripts continue to confront open-ended duration of service, far beyond the 18 months stipulated in law and often under abusive conditions, which may include the use of torture, sexual violence and forced labor,” she said.

      Gilmore urged Eritrea to bring its national service in line with the country’s international human rights obligations.

      “The peace agreement signed with Ethiopia should provide the security that the government of Eritrea has argued it needs to discontinue this national service and help shift its focus from security to development…. In the absence of promising signs of tangible human rights progress, that flow of asylum-seekers is not expected to drop,” Gilmore said.

      Human rights groups say unlimited national service forces thousands of young men to flee Eritrea every month to seek asylum in Europe. They say many lose their lives making the perilous journey across the Sahara Desert or while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

      The head of the Eritrean delegation to the Council, Tesfamicael Gerahtu, said his country has had to adopt certain measures to counter the negative effect of the last 20 years on peace, security and development. He insists there is no human rights crisis in his country.

      He accused the Human Rights Council of exerting undue pressure on Eritrea by monitoring his country’s human rights situation and adopting detrimental resolutions. He called the actions counterproductive.

      “The honorable and productive way forward is to terminate the confrontational approach on Eritrea that has been perpetrated in the last seven years and that has not created any dividend in the promotion of human rights. And, there is no crisis that warrants a Human Rights Council agenda or special mandate on Eritrea,” Gerahtu said.

      Daniel Eyasu , head of Cooperation and International Relations of the National Youth Union and Eritrean Students, agrees there is no human rights crisis in Eritrea. He offered a positive spin on the country’s controversial national service, calling it critical for nation building.

      Unfortunately, he said, the reports of the council’s special procedures characterizing national service as modern slavery is unwarranted, unjustified and unacceptable.

      The Founder of One Day Seyoum, Vanessa Tsehaye, said the government has not changed its stripes. She said it is as repressive today as it was before the peace accord with Ethiopia was signed.

      Tsehaye’s organization works for the release of her uncle, a journalist who has been imprisoned without a trial in Eritrea since 2001 and for all people unjustly imprisoned. She said they continue to languish in prison.

      “The standoff at the border cannot justify the fact that all capable Eritreans are enlisted into the national service indefinitely. It cannot justify the fact that the country’s constitution still has not been implemented and that the parliament still has not convened since 2002. It does not justify the fact that the only university in the country has been shut down, that the free press has still not been opened and that tens of thousands of people have been imprisoned without a trial simply for expressing their opinions, practicing their religion or attempting to leave their country,” Tsehaye said.

      But delegates at the council welcomed the peace process and expressed hope it will result in better protection for the Eritrean people. But they noted the prevailing abusive conditions are not promising.

      They urged the government to reform its military service, release all political prisoners, stop the practice of arbitrary arrests, and end torture and inhumane detention conditions.

      https://www.voanews.com/a/eritrea-human-rights/4834072.html
      #processus_de_paix #droits_humains