• War-related sexual and gender-based violence in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia: a community-based study

    Introduction. #Sexual_and_gender-based_violence (#SGBV) during armed conflicts has serious ramifications with women and girls disproportionally affected. The impact of the conflict that erupted in November 2020 in Tigray on SGBV is not well documented. This study is aimed at assessing war-related SGBV in war-affected Tigray, Ethiopia.

    Methods: A community-based survey was conducted in 52 (out of 84) districts of Tigray, excluding its western zone and some districts bordering Eritrea due to security reasons. Using a two-stage multistage cluster sampling technique, a total of 5171 women of reproductive age (15-49 years) were randomly selected and included in the study. Analysis used weighted descriptive statistics, regression modelling and tests of associations.

    Results: Overall, 43.3% (2241/5171) of women experienced at least one type of gender-based violence. The incidents of sexual, physical and psychological violence, and rape among women of reproductive age were found to be 9.7% (500/5171), 28.6% (1480/5171), 40.4% (2090/5171) and 7.9% (411/5171), respectively. Of the sexual violence survivors, rape accounted for 82.2% (411/500) cases, of which 68.4% (247) reported being gang raped. Young women (aged 15-24 years) were the most affected by sexual violence, 29.2% (146/500). Commonly reported SGBV-related issues were physical trauma, 23.8% (533/2241), sexually transmitted infections, 16.5% (68/411), HIV infection, 2.7% (11/411), unwanted pregnancy, 9.5% (39/411) and depression 19.2% (431/2241). Most survivors (89.7%) did not receive any postviolence medical or psychological support.

    Conclusions: Systemic war-related SGBV was prevalent in Tigray, with gang-rape as the most common form of sexual violence. Immediate medical and psychological care, and long-term rehabilitation and community support for survivors are urgently needed and recommended.

    Keywords: community-based survey; health policy; injury; public health.


    #viols #viol_de_guere #Tigray #Ethiopie #guerre #conflit_armé #femmes #filles #genre #article_scientifique #statistiques #chiffres

    Un article du Washington Post sur ce sujet (#paywall):

  • The Despotism of #Isaias_Afewerki: Eritrea’s dictator makes his move on #Tigray

    No country in the world has a purer autocracy than Eritrea. The state of Eritrea is one man, Isaias Afewerki, who for twenty years was the leader of a formidable insurgent army that won a war of liberation against Ethiopia in 1991, and who has since ruled as president without constraint on his power. Three decades after independence, Eritrea has no constitution, no elections, no legislature, and no published budget. Its judiciary is under the president’s thumb, its press nonexistent. The only institutions that function are the army and security. There is compulsory and indefinite national service. The army generals, presidential advisers, and diplomats have been essentially unchanged for twenty-five years. The country has a population of 3.5 million, and more than half a million have fled as refugees—the highest ratio in the world next to Syria and Ukraine.

    President Isaias—Eritreans use the first name—got to his position and held it because his overriding concern is power. The country has no shrill personality cult, no slavish performances of obedience to the leader. Isaias is an underestimated cypher, a lesson in understated ruthlessness. In an era when autocrats have adopted new guises and mastered new tactics, he has persevered with old-fashioned forms of absolute despotism. He has not even pretended to change. He simply outlasted his most vigilant adversaries, expecting that, in due course, a new set of foreign leaders and diplomats would suffer amnesia, gamble on appeasement, or simply not care about norms of human rights and democracy.

    The latest twist to Isaias’s despotism is his effort to contrive a war between the federal government in Ethiopia and its antagonists in the region of Tigray. He wants to see both weakened—and Tigray so badly mauled that he can eliminate it as a viable political entity, once and for all.

    Isaias’s logic is genocidal. In November 2020—when the world was distracted by the U.S. election—Isaias sent his army to join Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces in a war to “crush” the Tigrayans. Abiy gave him political cover, lying about the Eritrean role. After a year of mass killing, rape, and starvation inflicted on Tigray, as well as havoc across Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa more widely, the Tigray war settled into a stalemate. It was broken late last month with a fierce battle between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian federal army. The Tigrayans won the first round.

    On the morning of September 1, the second round began. Eritrean artillery opened up huge barrages, firing at Tigrayan defenses while Ethiopian conscripts readied for Isaias’s signal to charge into battle.

    Eritrea was an Italian colony, carved out of the northern reaches of the feudal empire of Ethiopia during the late nineteenth century scramble for Africa. Isaias was born in 1946, five years after Italian defeat in World War II. Eritreans of his generation have a love-hate relationship with their former colonizer. The Italians exploited Eritreans as laborers and denied them education. But the imperial power also made Eritrea special. Italy’s initial interest was in the Red Sea coast, then as now a strategic shoreline. After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, as much as one eighth of the world’s maritime commerce passed through the channel between Eritrea and Yemen. The same is true today, and every global power wants a presence in the Red Sea: China’s first overseas station is in next-door Djibouti, and Russia is negotiating for a naval base in Eritrea.

    Benito Mussolini dreamed of a new Roman Empire in Africa, including Libya, Somalia, and Ethiopia—with Eritrea as its model. The colony became Africa’s second biggest manufacturing center after Johannesburg. Architectural historians salivate over Eritrea’s capital Asmara, considered a showpiece for Art Deco buildings. Its Fiat Tagliero gas station modeled on an airplane is especially cherished by aficionados, of whom Isaias is said to be one. Successive wars have left the city undamaged and undeveloped, a museum of modernism. When a tall and ugly contemporary apartment block was built overshadowing the futuristic Fiat garage in 1994, the president is said to have intervened to insist that central Asmara retain its character. It is one of the few places where the fascist emblem of the bundle of sticks remains on public buildings.

    Mussolini’s new Roman Empire was the “first to be freed” by the Allies in 1941. The British Military Administration dismantled much of Eritrea’s industry in the name of war reparations and referred the future status of the territory to the United Nations, which proposed the delicate and ambiguous solution of “federation under the Ethiopian Crown.” The British left in 1952, remembered for impoverishing the territory but introducing a parliament and newspapers. The federal formula required that Emperor Haile Selassie rule with restraint, but after ten years of contrived unification with the rest of Ethiopia, dissolving Eritrea’s autonomous parliament, a small rebellion escalated. The first shots were fired in September 1961, and the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF)—founded in Cairo the year before—began its guerrilla operations shortly thereafter, with the single goal of independence.

    Isaias was a science student at university in Addis Ababa when he slipped across the border to Sudan and joined the ELF. He dedicated himself to learning Arabic because the rebels relied heavily on Arab countries for support. In 1967, he went to China for military training. On returning to the field, he was dismayed by the ELF’s lack of consistency in applying its revolutionary tenets and its failure to follow the Maoist model of consolidating a base area: any Eritrean nationalist was welcome to join, and differences of opinion were resolved by putting people of different political leanings in different units or holding inconclusive meetings. Along with another leftist who had trained in China, Ramadan Mohammed Nur, Isaias set up the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) in 1970. It was nationalist but also revolutionary.

    Successive Ethiopian regimes—imperial and communist—fought their wars in Eritrea on a huge scale and with unremitting brutality. Once or twice a year, they launched vast ground offensives. The emperor’s forces burned villages and singled out suspected nationalist sympathizers for detention and torture. Haile Selassie was overthrown in a revolution in 1974, and the head of the military junta, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, switched to the Soviet bloc. The USSR supplied an arsenal and trained Ethiopia officers in its use. They mounted artillery barrages at EPLF-held hillside strongholds, after which massed infantry brigades stormed them, time and again, with relentless futility. Daily daytime air raids meant that the EPLF became nocturnal—all activities from transporting supplies to cooking and laundry took place during the hours of darkness. In the EPLF-controlled areas, every dusk, anonymous hillsides would transform into hives of activity as fighters emerged from their hideouts.

    The EPLF’s ethos was egalitarian and ultra-disciplined. That was what ensured its survival under relentless onslaught. Its leaders insisted that Muslims, Christians, and members of all Eritrea’s nine ethno-linguistic groups were considered equal. Rather than postponing its revolutionary agenda until after the war, it enacted land reform and women’s emancipation in its “liberated areas,” and set up schools and hospitals for fighters and civilians alike. During its twenty years of armed struggle, it had no formal ranks, only positions of commander for specific tasks. After liberation, when it set up a memorial to its martyred fighters, the EPLF chose a monument in the shape of a plastic sandal. Manufactured in an underground factory dug out of a mountainside, sheltered from the daily air raids, plastic sandals had been the ubiquitous footwear of the guerrilla fighter.

    This was the image that Isaias projected to the world: an austere revolutionary, first among equals among comrades. Less mentioned was the fact that the EPLF was also Leninist in structure and discipline. The decisions of the central committee, once adopted, were to be implemented without question. Nor did the EPLF hesitate to kill. On many other occasions, EPLF members were executed on the merest suspicion that they might be spies. Scores of Eritreans were “sacrificed” in these purges, and hundreds perished in the vicious internecine war with the older, fissiparous ELF. In one episode from the early days of the EPLF, a band of well-educated volunteers was purged because they dared challenge Isaias. Known as the Menqa—or “bats”—because they supposedly conspired in darkness, the moniker says as much about the executioners as their victims. (Among them was Mussie Tesfamichael, one of Isaias’s close friends from his school days.) The Menqa were at least subjected to a process of investigation, and their fate became the subject of whispered debate. Not so for the next challenge to Isaias, from a group dubbed Yamin—“rightists” in Arabic—many of them highly educated, who simply disappeared without trace. The merciless elimination of dissent is the original sin of many revolutionary movements, a dark spot that cannot be erased.

    Ultimately, would-be dissenters fell in line because the EPLF was an astonishingly effective military machine. To call it a “guerrilla” movement would be a misnomer. It became a conventional army, defending its base areas in mountain trenches and fighting huge armored battles. The town of Nakfa in the desert hills close to the Red Sea—bombed into ruins by day-in-day-out attacks by Ethiopian fighter jets, yet never yielded by the EPLF—became the symbol of their resistance. (Eritrea’s post-independence currency is called the Nakfa.) After years of relentless combat, the EPLF turned the military tide. In fighting at the port city of Massawa in 1990, the EPLF captured ninety-nine Soviet-supplied tanks and inflicted thousands of casualties. They won a decisive victory in 1991, which was duly followed by a 99 percent vote for independence.

    The seven years after liberation were a period of hope for Eritrea. Fighters turned their energies to reconstruction. The diaspora returned, with professionals from Europe and America starting businesses, teaching at the university, and building retirement houses. Aid flowed in. Eritrea had the good will of the world.

    Signs of incipient autocracy, however, were evident from the outset. The secretive, centralized command structure that had been so efficient in wartime didn’t vanish when the EPLF became an ostensibly civilian government. Days before the declaration of independence, fighters protested the decision that they should continue to serve without pay for two more years. A group of disabled veterans marched—there’s no verb that conveys the determined collective motion of their wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and sticks—towards the capital to demand their pensions. They were shot at with live ammunition. Some were killed, others were arrested and disappeared. At a political convention in 1994, the EPLF dissolved itself and established the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice as a civilian political party. It was ostensibly to be one of many in a multi-party system, but in practice, the PFDJ was indistinguishable from the state itself. The EPLF’s shadowy financial network, set up for clandestine arms purchases, morphed into the party-owned Red Sea Trading Corporation, later the focus of UN investigations for a host of illicit activities.

    Veterans began to vote with their feet. Ramadan Nur quit politics. The minister of foreign affairs, Petros Solomon, a hero of the liberation war, asked to be demoted to run the ministry of maritime resources. Following elaborate consultations across the country, a constitution was drafted, but after the Constituent Assembly ratified it and handed it to the president in a ceremony at the national stadium, no more was heard about elections, an independent judiciary, or freedom of the press. Isaias had a reputation for knowing Eritreans one by one, forgetting no one, with an uncanny ability to espy their secrets. His intelligence network was both invisible and pervasive.

    In May 1998, Isaias escalated a border skirmish into a war with Ethiopia, which was governed at the time by a sister revolutionary movement, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Ethiopia had a tradition of martial imperialism that the Eritrean leader had learned to fear. Isaias’s border incursion—claiming a small town known as Badme—re-awoke Ethiopia’s militaristic spirit.

    The battle that was unfolding was both a comrades’ war and a cousins’ conflict. The two sides knew each other intimately. The EPRDF coalition was dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), founded during the revolution of 1974–1975. Over the next seventeen years, the EPLF and TPLF literally fought in the same trenches against Mengistu’s army, which employed Soviet tactics of relentless obliteration by artillery and airstrikes and massed infantry assaults.

    During that time, the EPLF and TPLF resisted with astonishing stoicism. But they also quarreled over doctrine and tactics. While the EPLF dug trenches to defend their base area in the desert mountains of northern Eritrea, the TPLF waged a textbook guerrilla war among peasant villages, withdrawing when the government army attacked and counterattacking when they could fight on their own terms. They disagreed over political doctrines too, in arcane debates that a generation later seem to belong in the seminars of Marxist theoreticians. Was the Soviet Union a “social imperialist” or ultimately an ally, even though it was the major backer of Mengistu? Were Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups—known in Marxist terminology as “nationalities”—entitled to self-determination?

    The worst falling out occurred in the depths of the great famine of 1985, when the EPLF closed the main road that brought relief aid from neighboring Sudan. But three years later, they patched up their differences in order to defeat Mengistu, accomplishing the task in May 1991. For the next seven years the EPLF in Asmara and the TPLF/EPRDF in Addis Ababa appeared to be the best of friends. But their differences were deeper than the factionalism of leftist politics.

    Isaias held the TPLF and its leaders in a special contempt. He and many of the Eritrean leaders hailed from the Eritrean highlands, historically coterminous with Tigray. They speak the same language—Tigrinya—and share the same history, dating back to the Axumite kingdom of the first century C.E. that were divided by the colonial boundary drawn at the turn of the twentieth century. Many Eritrean and Tigrayan families are intermarried. Isaias grew up in urban Asmara, where his father was among the first Eritreans to go to secondary school. Middle-class Asmarinos’ maidservants were often from Tigray’s northernmost district, Agame, as were the street sweepers and boys who hawked prickly pears. Their Tigrinya has a different accent. In private, members of the Asmara elite disparage the TPLF—including their leaders—as “Agames,” the sons of their maids. For them, it is unthinkable that Tigrayans could be their military equals or that Tigray’s prosperity could surpass Eritrea’s.

    The ostensible reason for the 1998 war was a minor territorial dispute over the town of Badme. Underneath it was the question of who should be number one in the Horn of Africa—Isaias would never be content to be anything else. A few weeks earlier, when President Bill Clinton had traveled to meet Africa’s “new brand” of leaders—the other three were Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi—the White House chose Kampala as the venue. To the dismay of White House staffers, Isaias declined the invitation. He knew he wouldn’t dominate the meeting and didn’t want to sign up to a coalition he wouldn’t lead.

    A few weeks after the outbreak of that war, I went to see Isaias with Paulos Tesfagiorgis—who ran the Eritrean Relief Association during the liberation war and had after independence overseen the country’s only human rights organization, the Regional Center for Human Rights and Development, for a brief period until it was shut down. Isaias carefully stage-manages every encounter and likes to meet alone without staff to keep a record. But the Badme War seemed to have shaken him. Arriving at his office, the guards were casual in dress and manner. Security checks were minimal. The receptionist, wearing her fatigues, waved us upstairs. The austere camaraderie of the guerrilla days lingered, but every visitor was monitored.

    The presidential office was an unremarkable Italian-era building with the spacious corridors and high ceilings favored by Mediterranean architects from the era before air conditioning. Isaias’s own office was capacious, simply furnished, and dark. The curtains were drawn, and there was just one dim light shining on a coffee table. Isaias himself sat at a large desk, head in hands. He glanced up only to wave us to sit down. He was wearing a khaki safari suit and plastic sandals.

    We sat, we waited. Then Isaias stood up, more heavily than his frame seemed to warrant—he is tall but slim—and joined us. His few steps were tired, and he slumped into the low chair, summoned coffee, and sighed. His face is normally inscrutable. At that moment he looked weary and wounded. He seemed at a loss for words. What he said next was the only time anyone can recollect any hint of remorse or self-doubt. If it was a performance for our benefit, it was a convincing one. “What have we done?” he asked. “What have I done?”

    But Isaias’s brooding demeanor lasted no more than a minute. As he spoke, he transformed, becoming focused and energized. For more than an hour he surveyed the political and military landscape, the state of world geopolitics, and the failures of the previous seven years. His coffee remained untouched. He shifted his forceful gaze from Paulos to me and back. He was in command of our encounter, and our cups of coffee also went cold.

    Eritrea had made the first gains on the battlefield. From Isaias’s encyclopedic monologue, battalion-by-battalion, he seemed utterly confident in victory. He was up against a much bigger country, however—and as Ethiopia cranked up its military mobilization, it would outnumber and outgun its smaller neighbor. Then again, overcoming long military odds was a familiar predicament for Isaias, even a comfortable one. Since leaving his university studies for the field in the sixties, forging the most efficient insurgent army in Africa, out-fighting Ethiopians was just what he did. We couldn’t tell if he believed in his own mystique, but he was certainly compelling: there was no detail on which Paulos or I could challenge him.

    As Isaias detailed the deployment of his troops, their logistics and fighting capacities, he also portrayed himself as strategist, diplomat, quartermaster, and military tactician. All the other commanders who had led fighters in the previous war faded from his telling. And indeed, many were pushed away from any active role in the command. Isaias was determined that the victory should be his alone. We left the meeting with a clear sense of Isaias’s focused, manic micromanagement of the war, and a glimpse of the dark void that lay behind it. There was also no vision beyond battlefield victory and the inexorable working out of historical inevitability.

    Isaias ran his war and lost it. Perhaps eighty thousand soldiers died on both sides in battles that resembled the western front of World War I. In May 2000, the Ethiopians overran Eritrean trenches, and the rout began. Veteran EPLF commanders hastily took charge of the disarrayed units and organized a last-ditch defense which slowed the Ethiopian advance. Isaias, who had previously scoffed at any suggestion of a ceasefire, desperately called Washington, D.C., to beg for one. Prime Minister Meles then ordered his troops to halt. The Ethiopian army chief of staff, General Tsadkan Gebretensae, rued that order for twenty years. He is now a member of the Tigrayan central command, organizing the defense against the Eritrean attack.

    Meles’s calculus was that Isaias would be overthrown or contained, which seemed possible at first. Eritrean veterans knew who had bungled the war and who had salvaged some honor in the defeat. Demands for change grew louder. Paulos organized a group of independent Eritreans to petition for human rights and democracy. They met in Germany, writing a letter to Isaias, reflecting on their country’s predicament and asking for Eritrea to turn towards the path of democracy. (The story is vividly told in Stephany Steggall’s book, The Eritrean Letter Writers.) In November 2000, the “Group of 13” (G-13) met with Isaias in Asmara.

    This was not an encounter that Isaias wanted and one for which he appeared astonishingly ill-prepared. Meeting the group alone, he began by accusing them of betraying Eritrea and giving solace to its enemies, then demanded they apologize and retract the letter. They of course refused. One of the G-13, the eminent physician Haile Debas, read out the substance of their letter, watching Isaias’s reactions closely. The president was ill at ease and unable to handle a well-articulated challenge. Leaving the meeting, Haile remarked to Paulos, “We have a bigger problem than I thought. He is mentally unstable.”

    A few months later, fifteen senior EPLF leaders—the “G-15”—formulated similar demands. Isaias ignored them. They made the fatal error of waiting. In private conversations (some of them recounted in Dan Connell’s book, Conversations with Eritrean Political Prisoners) they shared their dismay at how Isaias had betrayed their dreams and their remorse over their own failure to confront him over his abuses. For his part, Isaias was biding his time. A week after 9/11, with the world’s attention distracted, he struck with his trademark ruthlessness.

    Petros Solomon returned from his morning jog to find security men waiting for him outside his home. His young children were waking up inside. They have not seen or heard from him since. Their mother, Aster Yohannes, was studying in the United States at the time. After negotiating with the president’s office, she flew home. When Aster’s flight landed at Asmara airport, security agents boarded the plane and took her straight to a prison camp. Her children waited at the arrivals holding their flowers until the airport had emptied. She, too, has been neither seen nor heard of since. Their daughter Hanna has patiently campaigned for her parents not to be forgotten. She told her story in PBS Frontline’s Escaping Eritrea last year.

    One of the G-15 dissidents recanted. Three were abroad. The other eleven—among the most celebrated leaders of the liberation struggle—disappeared into Isaias’s gulag. Some are feared dead, others incapacitated. No one knows. No charges have been published.

    Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018. A reformer and relative political novice, he offered an olive branch to Isaias. One veteran diplomat compared it to a rabbit asking a cobra for a dinner date. The two men declared an end to the conflict with Eritrea, and Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The details of the deal weren’t revealed to the African Union or the Ethiopian parliament, however. Best practice—and the standard procedure at the African Union—is for a peace agreement to include provisions for democratization, human rights, and demobilization of over-sized armies, all subject to international monitoring and reporting. In this case, everything was chanced on words of goodwill. The Nobel Prize was a triumph for wishful thinking, but the Norwegian committee wasn’t the only one guilty of gullibility. The deal was greased by prince Mohamed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi. The U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Tibor Nagy, anticipated a “warm, cordial” relationship with Eritrea. Isaias got sanctions lifted, a security pact with Ethiopia, and an emergent axis of autocrats that brought Somalia into his sphere of influence.

    After Eritrea was brought in from the cold, Isaias didn’t relax his grip. Instead of demobilizing his vast army, he shopped for new weapons. Instead of allowing his people to move freely, he dispatched security agents to Addis Ababa. When Covid-19 hit, he took the opportunity for a rigorous lockdown. He trained special forces for the Somali army, reportedly with the goal that President Mohammed Abdullahi “Farmaajo” could dispense with the inconvenience of an election. The Somalis are skilled at restraining would-be autocrats, however, and managed to hold their election in May, removing their aspiring dictator. Isaias is also fishing in Sudan’s troubled waters.

    But for Eritrea’s despot, these are sideshows. The contest with Tigray is the main event.

    For Isaias, this portends a final decision by force of arms. He will fight without mercy. If he prevails, his lifelong ambition of becoming master of the Horn of Africa will be within his grasp. Should Isaias fall, a complacent international community will be able to claim no credit for the end of his dictatorship and destabilization. Hopefully, after a lost generation, Eritreans will be able to enjoy their long-awaited liberty.

    #Afewerki #Erythrée #dictature #Tigré

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Au #Tigré_éthiopien, la #guerre « sans pitié » du prix Nobel de la paix

    Le premier ministre éthiopien #Abyi_Ahmed oppose une fin de non-recevoir aux offres de médiation de ses pairs africains, alors que les combats entre l’armée fédérale et les forces de la province du Tigré ne cessent de prendre de l’ampleur.

    Le gouvernement d’Addis Abéba continue de parler d’une simple opération de police contre une province récalcitrante ; mais c’est une véritable guerre, avec blindés, aviation, et des dizaines de milliers de combattants, qui oppose l’armée fédérale éthiopienne aux forces de la province du Tigré, dans le nord du pays.

    Trois semaines de combats ont déjà provoqué l’afflux de 30 000 #réfugiés au #Soudan voisin, et ce nombre pourrait rapidement grimper après l’ultimatum lancé hier soir par le gouvernement aux rebelles : 72 heures pour se rendre. L’#armée demande aussi à la population de la capitale tigréenne, #Makelle, de se « libérer » des dirigeants du #Front_de_libération_du_peuple_du_Tigré, au pouvoir dans la province ; en cas contraire, a-t-elle prévenu, « il n’y aura aucune pitié ».

    Cette escalade rapide et, en effet, sans pitié, s’accompagne d’une position inflexible du premier ministre éthiopien, Abyi Ahmed, vis-à-vis de toute médiation, y compris celle de ses pairs africains. Addis Abéba a opposé une fin de non-recevoir aux tentatives de médiation, celle des voisins de l’Éthiopie, ou celle du Président en exercice de l’Union africaine, le sud-africain Cyril Ramaphosa. Ils seront poliment reçus à Addis Abéba, mais pas question de les laisser aller au Tigré ou de rencontrer les leaders du #TPLF, le front tigréen considéré comme des « bandits ».

    Pourquoi cette position inflexible ? La réponse se trouve à la fois dans l’histoire particulièrement violente de l’Éthiopie depuis des décennies, et dans la personnalité ambivalente d’Abyi Ahmed, le chef du gouvernement et, ne l’oublions pas, prix Nobel de la paix l’an dernier.

    L’histoire nous donne des clés. Le Tigré ne représente que 6% des 100 millions d’habitants de l’Éthiopie, mais il a joué un rôle historique déterminant. C’est du Tigré qu’est partie la résistance à la sanglante dictature de Mengistu Haile Mariam, qui avait renversé l’empire d’Haile Selassie en 1974. Victorieux en 1991, le TPLF a été au pouvoir pendant 17 ans, avec à sa tête un homme fort, Meles Zenawi, réformateur d’une main de fer, qui introduira notamment le fédéralisme en Éthiopie. Sa mort subite en 2012 a marqué le début des problèmes pour les Tigréens, marginalisés après l’élection d’Abyi Ahmed en 2018, et qui l’ont très mal vécu.

    La personnalité d’Abyi Ahmed est aussi au cœur de la crise actuelle. Encensé pour ses mesures libérales, le premier ministre éthiopien est également un ancien militaire inflexible, déterminé à s’opposer aux forces centrifuges qui menacent l’unité de l’ex-empire.

    Ce contexte laisse envisager un #conflit prolongé, car le pouvoir fédéral ne renoncera pas à son offensive jusqu’à ce qu’il ait, au minimum, repris Mekelle, la capitale du Tigré. Or cette ville est à 2500 mètres d’altitude, dans une région montagneuse où les avancées d’une armée régulière sont difficiles.

    Quant au front tigréen, il a vraisemblablement envisagé une position de repli dans la guerrilla, avec des forces aguerries, dans une région qui lui est acquise.

    Reste l’attitude des pays de la région, qui risquent d’être entrainés dans cette #guerre_civile, à commencer par l’Érythrée voisine, déjà touchée par les hostilités.

    C’est une tragédie pour l’Éthiopie, mais aussi pour l’Afrique, car c’est le deuxième pays le plus peuplé du continent, siège de l’Union africaine, l’une des locomotives d’une introuvable renaissance africaine. L’Afrique doit tout faire pour mettre fin à cette guerre fratricide, aux conséquences dévastatrices.


    #Ethiopie #Tigré #Corne_de_l'Afrique #Tigray

    • Conflict between Tigray and Eritrea – the long standing faultline in Ethiopian politics

      The missile attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on Eritrea in mid-November transformed an internal Ethiopian crisis into a transnational one. In the midst of escalating internal conflict between Ethiopia’s northernmost province, Tigray, and the federal government, it was a stark reminder of a historical rivalry that continues to shape and reshape Ethiopia.

      The rivalry between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the movement which has governed Eritrea in all but name for the past 30 years – the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front – goes back several decades.

      The histories of Eritrea and Ethiopia have long been closely intertwined. This is especially true of Tigray and central Eritrea. These territories occupy the central massif of the Horn of Africa. Tigrinya-speakers are the predominant ethnic group in both Tigray and in the adjacent Eritrean highlands.

      The enmity between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front dates to the mid-1970s, when the Tigrayan front was founded in the midst of political turmoil in Ethiopia. The authoritarian Marxist regime – known as the Derg (Amharic for ‘committee’) – inflicted violence upon millions of its own citizens. It was soon confronted with a range of armed insurgencies and socio-political movements. These included Tigray and Eritrea, where the resistance was most ferocious.

      The Tigrayan front was at first close to the Eritrean front, which had been founded in 1970 to fight for independence from Ethiopia. Indeed, the Eritreans helped train some of the first Tigrayan recruits in 1975-6, in their shared struggle against Ethiopian government forces for social revolution and the right to self-determination.

      But in the midst of the war against the Derg regime, the relationship quickly soured over ethnic and national identity. There were also differences over the demarcation of borders, military tactics and ideology. The Tigrayan front eventually recognised the Eritreans’ right to self-determination, if grudgingly, and resolved to fight for the liberation of all Ethiopian peoples from the tyranny of the Derg regime.

      Each achieved seminal victories in the late 1980s. Together the Tigrayan-led Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and the Eritrean front overthrew the Derg in May 1991. The Tigrayan-led front formed government in Addis Ababa while the Eritrean front liberated Eritrea which became an independent state.

      But this was just the start of a new phase of a deep-rooted rivalry. This continued between the governments until the recent entry of prime minister Abiy Ahmed.

      If there’s any lesson to be learnt from years of military and political manoeuvrings, it is that conflict in Tigray is unavoidably a matter of intense interest to the Eritrean leadership. And Abiy would do well to remember that conflict between Eritrea and Tigray has long represented a destabilising fault line for Ethiopia as well as for the wider region.
      Reconciliation and new beginnings

      In the early 1990s, there was much talk of reconciliation and new beginnings between Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaias Afeworki of Eritrea. The two governments signed a range of agreements on economic cooperation, defence and citizenship. It seemed as though the enmity of the liberation war was behind them.

      Meles declared as much at the 1993 Eritrean independence celebrations, at which he was a notable guest.

      But deep-rooted tensions soon resurfaced. In the course of 1997, unresolved border disputes were exacerbated by Eritrea’s introduction of a new currency. This had been anticipated in a 1993 economic agreement. But in the event Tigrayan traders often refused to recognise it, and it caused a collapse in commerce.

      Full-scale war erupted over the contested border hamlet of Badme in May 1998. The fighting swiftly spread to other stretches of the shared, 1,000 km long frontier. Air strikes were launched on both sides.

      It was quickly clear, too, that this was only superficially about borders. It was more substantively about regional power and long standing antagonisms that ran along ethnic lines.

      The Eritrean government’s indignant anti-Tigray front rhetoric had its echo in the popular contempt for so-called Agame, the term Eritreans used for Tigrayan migrant labourers.

      For the Tigray front, the Eritrean front was the clearest expression of perceived Eritrean arrogance.

      As for Isaias himself, regarded as a crazed warlord who had led Eritrea down a path which defied economic and political logic, it was hubris personified.

      Ethiopia deported tens of thousands of Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean descent.

      Ethiopia’s decisive final offensive in May 2000 forced the Eritrean army to fall back deep into their own territory. Although the Ethiopians were halted, and a ceasefire put in place after bitter fighting on a number of fronts, Eritrea had been devastated by the conflict.

      The Algiers Agreement of December 2000 was followed by years of standoff, occasional skirmishes, and the periodic exchange of insults.

      During this period Ethiopia consolidated its position as a dominant power in the region. And Meles as one of the continent’s representatives on the global stage.

      For its part Eritrea retreated into a militaristic, authoritarian solipsism. Its domestic policy centred on open-ended national service for the young. Its foreign policy was largely concerned with undermining the Ethiopian government across the region. This was most obvious in Somalia, where its alleged support for al-Shabaab led to the imposition of sanctions on Asmara.

      The ‘no war-no peace’ scenario continued even after Meles’s sudden death in 2012. The situation only began to shift with the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn against a backdrop of mounting protest across Ethiopia, especially among the Oromo and the Amhara, and the rise to power of Abiy.

      What followed was the effective overthrow of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front which had been the dominant force in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition since 1991.

      This provided Isaias with a clear incentive to respond to Abiy’s overtures.
      Tigray’s loss, Eritrea’s gain

      A peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, was signed in July 2018 by Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki. It formally ended their 1998-2000 war. It also sealed the marginalisation of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Many in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front were unenthusiastic about allowing Isaias in from the cold.

      Since the 1998-2000 war, in large part thanks to the astute manoeuvres of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Eritrea had been exactly where the Tigray People’s Liberation Front wanted it: an isolated pariah state with little diplomatic clout. Indeed, it is unlikely that Isaias would have been as receptive to the deal had it not involved the further sidelining of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, something which Abiy presumably understood.

      Isaias had eschewed the possibility of talks with Abiy’s predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn. But Abiy was a different matter. A political reformer, and a member of the largest but long-subjugated ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromo, he was determined to end the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s domination of Ethiopian politics.

      This was effectively achieved in December 2019 when he abolished the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and replaced it with the Prosperity Party.

      The Tigray People’s Liberation Front declined to join with the visible results of the current conflict.

      À lire aussi : Residual anger driven by the politics of power has boiled over into conflict in Ethiopia

      Every effort to engage with the Tigrayan leadership – including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – in pursuit of a peaceful resolution must also mean keeping Eritrea out of the conflict.

      Unless Isaias is willing to play a constructive role – he does not have a good track record anywhere in the region in this regard – he must be kept at arm’s length, not least to protect the 2018 peace agreement itself.


      #Derg #histoire #frontières #démarcation_des_frontières #monnaie #Badme #Agame #travailleurs_étrangers #Oromo #Ethiopian_People’s_Revolutionary_Democratic_Front #Prosperity_Party


      #Agame , the term Eritreans used for Tigrayan migrant labourers.

      –-> #terminologie #vocabulaire #mots
      ping @sinehebdo

    • Satellite Images Show Ethiopia Carnage as Conflict Continues
      – United Nations facility, school, clinic and homes burned down
      – UN refugee agency has had no access to the two camps

      Satellite images show the destruction of United Nations’ facilities, a health-care unit, a high school and houses at two camps sheltering Eritrean refugees in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, belying government claims that the conflict in the dissident region is largely over.

      The eight Planet Labs Inc images are of Hitsats and the Shimelba camps. The camps hosted about 25,000 and 8,000 refugees respectively before a conflict broke out in the region two months ago, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

      “Recent satellite imagery indicates that structures in both camps are being intentionally targeted,” said Isaac Baker, an analyst at DX Open Network, a U.K. based human security research and analysis non-profit. “The systematic and widespread fires are consistent with an intentional campaign to deny the use of the camp.”

      DX Open Network has been following the conflict and analyzing satellite image data since Nov. 7, three days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared war against a dissident group in the Tigray region, which dominated Ethiopian politics before Abiy came to power.

      Ethiopia’s government announced victory against the dissidents on Nov. 28 after federal forces captured the regional capital of Mekelle. Abiy spoke of the need to rebuild and return normalcy to Tigray at the time.

      Calls and messages to Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the government’s emergency task force on Tigray and the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Spokeswoman Billene Seyoum were not answered.

      In #Shimelba, images show scorched earth from apparent attacks in January. A World Food Programme storage facility and a secondary school run by the Development and Inter-Aid Church Commission have also been burned down, according to DX Open Network’s analysis. In addition, a health facility run by the Ethiopian Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs situated next to the WFP compound was also attacked between Jan. 5 and Jan. 8.

      In #Hitsats camp, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) away, there were at least 14 actively burning structures and 55 others were damaged or destroyed by Jan. 5. There were new fires by Jan. 8, according to DX Open Network’s analysis.

      The UN refugee agency has not had access to the camps since fighting started in early November, according to Chris Melzer, a communications officer for the agency. UNHCR has been able to reach its two other camps, Mai-Aini and Adi Harush, which are to the south, he said.

      “We also have no reliable, first-hand information about the situation in the camps or the wellbeing of the refugees,” Melzer said in reference to Hitsats and Shimelba.

      Eritrean troops have also been involved in the fighting and are accused of looting businesses and abducting refugees, according to aid workers and diplomats briefed on the situation. The governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied that Eritrean troops are involved in the conflict.

      The UN says fighting is still going on in several Tigray areas and 2.2 million people have been displaced in the past two months. Access to the region for journalists and independent analysts remains constrained, making it difficult to verify events.


      #images_satellitaires #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés

    • Ethiopia’s government appears to be wielding hunger as a weapon

      A rebel region is being starved into submission

      ETHIOPIA HAS suffered famines in the past. Many foreigners know this; in 1985 about one-third of the world’s population watched a pop concert to raise money for starving Ethiopians. What is less well understood is that poor harvests lead to famine only when malign rulers allow it. It was not the weather that killed perhaps 1m people in 1983-85. It was the policies of a Marxist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, who forced peasants at gunpoint onto collective farms. Mengistu also tried to crush an insurgency in the northern region of Tigray by burning crops, destroying grain stores and slaughtering livestock. When the head of his own government’s humanitarian agency begged him for cash to feed the starving, he dismissed him with a memorably callous phrase: “Don’t let these petty human problems...consume you.”


      #famine #faim

    • Amnesty International accuses Eritrean troops of killing hundreds of civilians in the holy city of #Axum

      Amnesty International has released a comprehensive, compelling report detailing the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Tigrayan city of Axum.

      This story has been carried several times by Eritrea Hub, most recently on 20th February. On 12 January this year the Axum massacre was raised in the British Parliament, by Lord David Alton.

      Gradually the picture emerging has been clarified and is now unambiguous.

      The Amnesty report makes grim reading: the details are horrifying.

      Human Rights Watch are finalising their own report, which will be published next week. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is also publishing a report on the Axum massacre.

      The Ethiopian government appointed interim administration of Tigray is attempting to distance itself from the actions of Eritrean troops. Alula Habteab, who heads the interim administration’s construction, road and transport department, appeared to openly criticise soldiers from Eritrea, as well as the neighbouring Amhara region, for their actions during the conflict.

      “There were armies from a neighbouring country and a neighbouring region who wanted to take advantage of the war’s objective of law enforcement,” he told state media. “These forces have inflicted more damage than the war itself.”

      The full report can be found here: The Massacre in Axum – AFR 25.3730.2021. Below is the summary (https://eritreahub.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/The-Massacre-in-Axum-AFR-25.3730.2021.pdf)


      #rapport #massacre

    • Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: How a massacre in the sacred city of #Aksum unfolded

      Eritrean troops fighting in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray killed hundreds of people in Aksum mainly over two days in November, witnesses say.

      The mass killings on 28 and 29 November may amount to a crime against humanity, Amnesty International says in a report.

      An eyewitness told the BBC how bodies remained unburied on the streets for days, with many being eaten by hyenas.

      Ethiopia and Eritrea, which both officially deny Eritrean soldiers are in Tigray, have not commented.

      The Ethiopian Human Rights commission says it is investigating the allegations.

      The conflict erupted on 4 November 2020 when Ethiopia’s government launched an offensive to oust the region’s ruling TPLF party after its fighters captured federal military bases in Tigray.

      Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, told parliament on 30 November that “not a single civilian was killed” during the operation.

      But witnesses have recounted how on that day they began burying some of the bodies of unarmed civilians killed by Eritrean soldiers - many of them boys and men shot on the streets or during house-to-house raids.

      Amnesty’s report has high-resolution satellite imagery from 13 December showing disturbed earth consistent with recent graves at two churches in Aksum, an ancient city considered sacred by Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians.

      A communications blackout and restricted access to Tigray has meant reports of what has gone on in the conflict have been slow to emerge.

      In Aksum, electricity and phone networks reportedly stopped working on the first day of the conflict.
      How was Aksum captured?

      Shelling by Ethiopian and Eritrea forces to the west of Aksum began on Thursday 19 November, according to people in the city.

      “This attack continued for five hours, and was non-stop. People who were at churches, cafes, hotels and their residence died. There was no retaliation from any armed force in the city - it literally targeted civilians,” a civil servant in Aksum told the BBC.
      1px transparent line

      Amnesty has gathered similar and multiple testimonies describing the continuous shelling that evening of civilians.

      Once in control of the city, soldiers, generally identified as Eritrean, searched for TPLF soldiers and militias or “anyone with a gun”, Amnesty said.

      “There were a lot of... house-to-house killings,” one woman told the rights group.

      There is compelling evidence that Ethiopian and Eritrean troops carried out “multiple war crimes in their offensive to take control of Aksum”, Amnesty’s Deprose Muchena says.
      What sparked the killings?

      For the next week, the testimonies say Ethiopia troops were mainly in Aksum - the Eritreans had pushed on east to the town of Adwa.

      A witness told the BBC how the Ethiopian military looted banks in the city in that time.

      he Eritrean forces reportedly returned a week later. The fighting on Sunday 28 November was triggered by an assault of poorly armed pro-TPLF fighters, according to Amnesty’s report.

      Between 50 and 80 men from Aksum targeted an Eritrean position on a hill overlooking the city in the morning.

      A 26-year-old man who participated in the attack told Amnesty: “We wanted to protect our city so we attempted to defend it especially from Eritrean soldiers... They knew how to shoot and they had radios, communications... I didn’t have a gun, just a stick.”
      How did Eritrean troops react?

      It is unclear how long the fighting lasted, but that afternoon Eritrean trucks and tanks drove into Aksum, Amnesty reports.

      Witnesses say Eritrean soldiers went on a rampage, shooting at unarmed civilian men and boys who were out on the streets - continuing until the evening.

      A man in his 20s told Amnesty about the killings on the city’s main street: “I was on the second floor of a building and I watched, through the window, the Eritreans killing the youth on the street.”

      The soldiers, identified as Eritrean not just because of their uniform and vehicle number plates but because of the languages they spoke (Arabic and an Eritrean dialect of Tigrinya), started house-to-house searches.

      “I would say it was in retaliation,” a young man told the BBC. “They killed every man they found. If you opened your door and they found a man they killed him, if you didn’t open, they shoot your gate by force.”

      He was hiding in a nightclub and witnessed a man who was found and killed by Eritrean soldiers begging for his life: “He was telling them: ’I am a civilian, I am a banker.’”

      Another man told Amnesty that he saw six men killed, execution-style, outside his house near the Abnet Hotel the following day on 29 November.

      “They lined them up and shot them in the back from behind. Two of them I knew. They’re from my neighbourhood… They asked: ’Where is your gun’ and they answered: ’We have no guns, we are civilians.’”
      How many people were killed?

      Witnesses say at first the Eritrean soldiers would not let anyone approach the bodies on the streets - and would shoot anyone who did so.

      One woman, whose nephews aged 29 and 14 had been killed, said the roads “were full of dead bodies”.

      Amnesty says after the intervention of elders and Ethiopian soldiers, burials began over several days, with most funerals taking place on 30 November after people brought the bodies to the churches - often 10 at a time loaded on horse- or donkey-drawn carts.

      At Abnet Hotel, the civil servant who spoke to the BBC said some bodies were not removed for four days.

      "The bodies that were lying around Abnet Hotel and Seattle Cinema were eaten by hyenas. We found only bones. We buried bones.

      “I can say around 800 civilians were killed in Aksum.”

      This account is echoed by a church deacon who told the Associated Press that many bodies had been fed on by hyenas.

      He gathered victims’ identity cards and assisted with burials in mass graves and also believes about 800 people were killed that weekend.

      The 41 survivors and witnesses Amnesty interviewed provided the names of more than 200 people they knew who were killed.
      What happened after the burials?

      Witnesses say the Eritrean soldiers participated in looting, which after the massacre and as many people fled the city, became widespread and systematic.

      The university, private houses, hotels, hospitals, grain stores, garages, banks, DIY stores, supermarkets, bakeries and other shops were reportedly targeted.

      One man told Amnesty how Ethiopian soldiers failed to stop Eritreans looting his brother’s house.

      “They took the TV, a jeep, the fridge, six mattresses, all the groceries and cooking oil, butter, teff flour [Ethiopia’s staple food], the kitchen cabinets, clothes, the beers in the fridge, the water pump, and the laptop.”

      The young man who spoke to the BBC said he knew of 15 vehicles that had been stolen belonging to businessmen in the city.

      This has had a devastating impact on those left in Aksum, leaving them with little food and medicine to survive, Amnesty says.

      Witnesses say the theft of water pumps left residents having to drink from the river.
      Why is Aksum sacred?

      It is said to be the birthplace of the biblical Queen of Sheba, who travelled to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon.

      They had a son - Menelik I - who is said to have brought to Aksum the Ark of the Covenant, believed to contain the 10 commandments handed down to Moses by God.

      It is constantly under guard at the city’s Our Lady Mary of Zion Church and no-one is allowed to see it.

      A major religious celebration is usually held at the church on 30 November, drawing pilgrims from across Ethiopia and around the world, but it was cancelled last year amid the conflict.

      The civil servant interviewed by the BBC said that Eritrean troops came to the church on 3 December “terrorising the priests and forcing them to give them the gold and silver cross”.

      But he said the deacons and other young people went to protect the ark.

      “It was a huge riot. Every man and woman fought them. They fired guns and killed some, but we are happy as we did not fail to protect our treasures.”


  • 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.


    #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.

      #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


      #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


    • "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.


    • 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.


    • 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.


    • 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.

      #film #documentaire

    • L’esodo infinito degli eritrei. Nel limbo dei campi al confine: “Per noi non c’è pace”

      REPORTAGE dal #Tigray, zona di confine. Al primo ministro Abiy Ahmed Ali il premio Nobel per la pace, ma per chi vive sotto il regime di Afewerki la situazione non è cambiata. Si continua a scappare: in Etiopia il numero di rifugiati sfiora il milione. Da qui partito anche il primo corridoio dall’Africa di Caritas e Cei.

      La strada di terra arsa che si perde all’orizzonte è intervallata solo da qualche curva, alcune costruzioni di mattoni e una collina: a destra c’è Mereb il fiume che segna il confine, a sinistra Badamè, la zona contesa per oltre vent’anni. “Lì dopo quella curva c’è l’Eritrea: le persone passano da lì, attraversano la frontiera a piedi, ogni giorno. Camminano fino a Dabaguna, dove c’è il primo centro e lì vengono registrati. Ci sono quindi ingressi circa, si stimano fino a circa 300 passaggi al giorno”, dice Alganesh Feassaha, presidente della Fondazione Gandhi, che ci accompagna nel viaggio insieme agli operatori di Caritas Italiana. Un esodo continuo, che neanche i recenti accordi di pace hanno arrestato, anzi da quando si sono aperti i confini, a scappare è un numero maggiore di persone. Siamo nella zona del Tigray, a venti chilometri da Shire. Qui ci sono almeno 164 mila profughi, in maggioranza eritrei, nei quattro campi ufficiali e nel campo di smistamento dell’Unhcr. “Doctor Aganesh” come la chiamano qui, continua a rivolgere lo sguardo oltre la collina, al suo paese, in cui da oltre 27 anni non può rientrare. “Penso di essere un ospite non gradita, diciamo così. Ma mi manca tanto, non vedo l’ora di rientrare”, dice. Attivista, medico ayurvedico, nel Giardino dei Giusti a Tunisi un albero porta il suo nome per ricordare la sua incessante attività di aiuto verso i migranti, non solo al confine con l’Eritrea ma anche in Libia e nel Sinai. Nel campo di May Haini la sua ong si occupa di assicurare almeno un pasto al giorno ai bambini presenti. Il campo conta più di 20 mila persone, che vivono nelle tende, ma anche in casolari di mattoni e lamiere. Il tempo di permanenza è infinito, si può restare qui anche 10 anni.

      Secondo l’ultimo rapporto di Unhcr, in Etiopia ci sono quasi un milione (905,831) di rifugiati: un numero altissimo, tanto da risultare il secondo paese africano dopo l’Uganda. Solo nella zona del Tigray ci sono circa 170 mila persone, in gran parte scappate dal regime di Isaias Afewerki. “I campi più grandi sono quello di Mai Aini e Aidi Arush - spiega Oliviero Forti, responsabile immigrazione di Caritas italiana -. Le persone vivono qui, ormai da anni, con grandi difficoltà anche rispetto alla popolazione locale, perché avere numeri così alti nei campi significa gravare sulla comunità locale. Bisogna trovare le vie per alleggerire questa accoglienza - aggiunge -. L’Etiopia non è un paese che potrà proseguire con questi sforzi perché i costi, sia economici che sociali, sono elevati”.

      In una delle case di cemento incontro due ragazze appena arrivate, preparano il caffè. “Veniamo da Asmara, abbiamo passato il confine una settimana fa - dicono - per ora siamo qui nel campo, poi proviamo ad andare ad Addis Abeba”. Nella casa affianco si entra passando un piccolo cancello: nel cortile improvvisato, un filo tirato tiene su i panni stesi di bambini molto piccoli, uno zaino. Per terra, vicino alle mura ci sono alcuni sacchi, a cui una capra attinge per mangiare. “Sono eritrea, nel mio paese ero un’insegnante - racconta Farah -. Sono andata via dal paese per raggiungere mio marito, che è stato costretto a scappare, e ora è in Canada. Qui ci siamo io e i nostri tre bambini - aggiunge - non è facile, perché non è il nostro paese e le condizioni non sono ottime. Ma speriamo di ricongiungerci con lui al più presto”.

      Davanti all’ingresso del campo, sotto il manifesto di Unhcr che recita “working together to prevent suicide”, decine di persone si ammassano in fila. Oltre a chi scappa da Asmara, c’è chi arriva dal Sudan e dalla Somalia. “La frontiera è lunga e pericolosa, anche mortale, ci sono dei fiumi da attraversare e per molti il viaggio è particolarmente difficile - aggiunge Forti -. Quando riescono ad arrivare, vengono smistati in questi campi attrezzati. Ma il tempo di permanenza è molto variabile: c’è chi rimane anche oltre 10 anni. Molti giovani sono nati qui e continuano a vivere in attesa di una risposta. Ma più i tempi si allungano più si affievoliscono le speranze di trovare un’alternativa. E questo spinge molti a pensare ad altre vie: in particolare la via del deserto, della Libia e del mare”.

      In molti si affidano ai trafficanti, nelle zone di confine ci sono diversi passeur che aspettano i rifugiati per offrire un passaggio a peso d’oro. Le alternative legali e sicure sono poche: i progetti di reinsediamento verso altri paesi sono numericamente risibili, negli ultimi anni si sono ridotti in particolare i programmi di resettlement verso gli Stati Uniti, per una stretta voluta dall’amministrazione Trump. Sono stati incrementati invece i programmi privati come i corridoi umanitari, ma anche questi hanno numeri ancora bassi. In particolare, il corridoio da Addis Abeba verso l’Italia, organizzato da Caritas italiana, Fondazione Gandhi e Unhcr, da protocollo prevede l’arrivo nel nostro paese di 600 persone. Il protocollo precedente ne contava 500. “Sono numeri poco significativi se pensiamo che ogni campo ha al suo interno almeno 20 mila persone - aggiunge Forti -. Ma ovviamente importanti perché permettiamo a queste persone di arrivare con una via legale e sicura”. Oltre il limbo dei campi al confine, la situazione è complicata anche nei sobborghi delle grandi città.

      A Jemo, quartiere di Addis Abeba, c’è una comunità numerosa di rifugiati cosiddetti out of camp, fuori accoglienza. Sono passati cioè dai campi ufficiali al confine per poi spostarsi in città, uscendo di fatto dall’accoglienza. Vivono in palazzi occupati e si mantengono facendo piccoli lavoretti: la legge non gli permette ancora di lavorare. Per loro - la situazione paradossalmente è peggiorata dopo la pace firmata tra Etiopia ed Eritrea: con l’apertura dei confini molti emissari del regime sono entrati nel paese, e ora chi è scappato teme di non essere al sicuro neanche qui.

      “Molti attivisti, scappati da Asmara, hanno un problema di protezione anche in un paese di primo asilo come l’Etiopia - spiega Daniele Albanese, che per Caritas italiana segue il corridoio umanitario dal Corno d’Africa, occupandosi di tutta la parte logistica. Ogni partenza ha alle spalle una lavoro di mesi, mi racconta, mentre arriviamo nel residence di Addis Abeba, dove vivono le persone beneficiarie del progetto. “Abbiamo incontrato le persone nei campi al confine, partiamo dalla segnalazione delle Nazioni Unite che ci fornisce una lista di persone vulnerabili - aggiunge -. Tutti hanno dovuto scappare e lasciare il paese in maniera traumatica. Questo, per ora, è l’unico corridoio umanitario dall’Africa. La maggior parte dei beneficiari sono eritrei perché nel paese continua la diaspora e il movimento di persone, specialmente dopo la pace con l’Etiopia l’afflusso è diventato enorme perché si sono aperti i confini. Fuori e dentro i campi alla frontiera ci sono anche tanti trafficanti che chiedono cinque o seimila euro a persona per arrivare in Europa. La rotta più battuta è quella verso la Libia. Quello che tentiamo di fare noi è offrire una testimonianza virtuosa che vorremmo diventasse sistema”.

      Il 10 dicembre scorso il primo ministro etiope Abiy Ahmed Ali ha ritirato il premio Nobel per la Pace 2019, che gli è stato conferito per l’accordo di pace raggiunto con l’Eritrea, dopo vent’anni di guerra tra i due paesi. Ma se in Etiopia i cambiamenti sembrano procedere sia dal punto di vista economico che sociale, in Eritrea non si respira un’aria nuova. “Sono scappato dopo la firma della pace tra Eritrea ed Etiopia - racconta Mehari Haile, che fa parte del gruppo partito il 29 novembre 2019-. In Eritrea il servizio militare continua a essere definitivo, io sono stato arruolato 5 anni poi non ce la facevo più, stavo impazzendo e ho lasciato. Quando si sono aperti i confini con l’Etiopia sono riuscito a scappare, lì ho lasciato mia madre. Ma ora non posso più tornare indietro. Avevo già pensato di lasciare il mio paese in modo legale, avevo ottenuto una borsa di studio a Trento e Milano ma non mi hanno mai rilasciato il passaporto. Non puoi andartene dall’Eritrea, puoi solo scappare”. E’ per questo - aggiunge - che molti provano la rotta più pericolosa, quella del mare. “Dopo la pace tra Etiopia ed Eritrea si sono aperti i confini, ma non è cambiato niente per noi - aggiunge - Sì, non c’è più la guerra, ed è una cosa positiva, ma le nostre vite sono rimaste uguali. C’è ancora un regime dittatoriale, non c’è libertà di parola e di pensiero. E’ come se fosse una pace finta. Ho dei parenti che hanno fatto la traversata via mare e mi hanno raccontato cose orribili, mi dicono che un viaggio terribile - aggiunge -. Io ho la fortuna di arrivare con un corridoio umanitario ma in tanti non hanno altra scelta”. In tutto saranno 600 i beneficiari del progetto dal Corno d’Africa in due anni.

      Redattore Sociale ha seguito l’ultimo corridoio del 29 novembre scorso (https://www.redattoresociale.it/article/notiziario/rifugiati_da_addis_abeba_a_roma_il_nostro_primo_viaggio_sicuro_), raccontando le storie delle persone pronte a partire verso nel nostro paese (https://www.redattoresociale.it/article/notiziario/una_via_sicura_dall_africa_viaggio_tra_i_profughi_che_arriveranno_i), che ora sono accolte nelle diocesi di tutta Italia. “Nessuno ha la presunzione di risolvere i grandi problemi dell’immigrazione con i corridoi umanitari: il nostro obiettivo è mandare un messaggio chiaro, vogliamo cambiare la narrativa per cambiare anche le politiche - aggiunge Oliviero Forti -. Vogliamo spingere, cioè, le istituzioni e i governi a impegnarsi realmente a realizzare vie sicure e legali, perché le persone non debbano più tentare altre rotte, che mettono a rischio la vita di migliaia di persone come quella del Mediterraneo centrale”.


    • Sommaire :

      Studies on forest landscape restoration in hilly and mountainous regions of Asia and Africa – an introduction to the Special Issue
      How do property rights reforms provide incentives for forest landscape restoration? Comparing evidence from Nepal, China and Ethiopia
      The ‘#Conversion_of_Cropland_to_Forest_Program’ (#CCFP) as a national ‘#Payment_for_Ecosystem_Services’ (#PES) scheme in China: Institutional structure and roles, ensuring voluntarism and conditionality of subsidy payments
      Exclosures as forest and landscape restoration tools: lessons from #Tigray Region, Ethiopia
      Shared strengths and limitations of participatory forest management and area exclosure: two major state led landscape rehabilitation mechanisms in Ethiopia
      Can forest stand alone? Barriers to the restoration of the last remaining rainforest in Assam, India
      From denuded to green mountains: process and motivating factors of forest landscape restoration in #Phewa_Lake watershed, Nepal
      Change in land use and ecosystem services delivery from community-based forest landscape restoration in the Phewa Lake watershed, Nepal
      Smallholders and forest landscape restoration in upland northern Thailand
      A segregated assessment of total carbon stocks by the mode of origin and ecological functions of forests: implication on restoration potential

      #revue #Ethiopie #Assam #Inde #Népal #Thaïlande #restauration #Asie #Afrique #Chine

  • Land restoration in Ethiopia: ’This place was abandoned ... This is incredible to me’

    A project to restore the land in #Tigray, Ethiopia has created opportunities for livelihoods for young people who had been leaving in droves

    The minister of agriculture had the last word. “Agroforestry is becoming the heart and the mind of the government,” said Abraha. “What we see here is really the beginning of transformation. All those youngsters who wanted to migrate will have productive land.”

    #Ethiopie #terre #jeunes #paysage #Gergera #eau
    cc @odilon