Djibouti hands 267 Eritreans over to UNHCR

 The Djiboutian government has handed 267 Eritreans, seized during a three-day border conflict in 2008, over to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), presidential adviser Najib Ali Tahir said on Monday, according to Anadolu Agency.


“Some of them are military deserters and prisoners of the Djibouti-Eritrea war, which broke out on June 10, 2008,” Tahir told Anadolu Agency.

Tahir said the Eritreans were technically under Djibouti’s protection, going on to note that “there are [another] 19 prisoners of war (POWs) temporarily under our protection.”

“We have made them talk to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to facilitate their return to their country, and we’re doing this despite the fact that we never heard of Djibouti’s POWs,” Tahir said.

Djibouti and neighboring Eritrea have twice engaged in border conflicts. In April 1996, they almost went to war after a Djiboutian official accused Eritrea of shelling the town of Ras Doumeira.

Three years later in 1999, Eritrea accused Djibouti of siding with its longstanding rival, Ethiopia, while Djibouti counter-accused Eritrea of supporting rebels fighting against its government.

As a result, Djibouti recalled its ambassador and broke off relations with Eritrea, which weren’t fully restored until 2001.

The two countries clashed again for three days in June of 2008, leading to another deterioration of ties and a U.N. embargo on Eritrea.


Eritrea denies Ethiopian destabilization claims

Late last month, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti accused Eritrea of playing a role in the ongoing South Sudan conflict.

Eritrea denies Ethiopian destabilization claims

Eritrea has dismissed claims by longstanding rival Ethiopia that it was destabilizing the East Africa region by involving itself in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Eritrean Ambassador to Kenya Beyene Russom was quoted by Eritrean state television as saying that the allegations were part of an Ethiopian smear campaign.

Eritrea, Russom insisted, wanted to see the South Sudanese people solve their domestic problems.

Late last month, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti accused Eritrea of playing a role in the ongoing South Sudan conflict.

“We have circumstantial evidence of Eritrea’s involvement [in the South Sudan crisis],” Mufti said.

Tensions between Addis Ababa and Asmara have persisted since a bloody two-year border war – in which tens of thousands were killed – ended in 2000.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, of attempting to overthrow his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now “severely food insecure” while around one million have been displaced by the violence.

Source: World Bulletin / News Desk

وفاة الزعيم الوطني الكبير المناضل احمد محمد ناصر

ببالغ الحزن والأسى، و بقضاء الله وقدره انتقل إلى جوار ربه الزعيم الوطني الكبير المناضل أحمد محمد ناصر  صبيحة هذا اليوم الموافق 26 مارس 2014.         Prominent Eritrean opposition leader Ahmed Nasser passed away on Wednesday after suffering a stroke in … Continue reading


A lasting peace and prosperity would not be realised in Eritrea by ways of forming a democratic nation based on traditional rule of majority. The democratic system that is based on a majority rule would only replace the current dictatorship regime into a dictatorship of the majority or ‘Tyranny of the majority’.  Having a majority rule system, undeniably is step towards the right direction, however it would only favour those who are currently, and in the near future, regarded as a dominant forces in Eritrea. We know and can see these dominant forces are now coming from Tigrinya Christian Highlanders. We also know that tyranny of the majority, would lead to further tensions and cycles of conflict, violence and instability where less dominant nationalities are expected to start demanding equal political, economic and social rights.

It is in the interest of all Eritreans, those who are dominant and less dominant forces, to work on a formula and governing system that avoids any future conflict and violence between the fabrics of one nation. It is therefore vital that all current political and civil activists to make Strenuous efforts towards coming up with a governance and democratic system that strike the balance between the rights of individuals, groups and nationalities and secure a lasting peace and stability.

A lasting peace and prosperity in Eritrea would not be achieved by force or by imposing authority by dominant groups. Peace and prosperity would need all parties to have courage, compromise and make sacrifices.

Much has been said about type of governance required for a multi ethnic and nationality societies. Any proposals of any system must untimely achieve a lasting peace and prosperity for all. In Eritrea, a federal system as a governance system has been proposed by some opposition groups. However those who are behind these proposals have not been able to take the concept further and perhaps deliberately avoided many complex questions of how the federal system would be implemented.    

It is unreasonable to argue that ‘let’s not worry about future type of governance in Eritrea now as we need to put all our energy in overthrowing the current dictatorship regime first’.  This type of argument perfectly suits those who fully know that the mere democratic system which is based on elections and multi-party system would guarantee them to continue to be as dominant forces politically, economically and sociality. Unfortunately the situation for those who are less dominant are less likely to change although they might see some improvement in the short term.

Let’s be perfectly be clear and frank about this, future Eritrea needs a political system that prevents Tigrinya Christian highlanders from continue to becoming a dominant political, economic and social forces again.

Some think, it is painstaking to think about the best a type of governance in multi ethnic, nationality and religious societies, therefore avoid going into this territory completely.  So far a federal system seems to be the best available system that have a chance to be tested and implemented in Eritrea. We know some organised political forces in Eritrea argue that all nationalities must have the ultimate right for their own self-determination including secession. This seems to be unrealistic, unnecessary and very complex to implement.  The more compromise system realistically available to Eritreans is a federal system which is based on a well-known regional administrations.

Prior to changing the regional administration boundaries by the current regime, Eritrea was administrated on the basis of 9 administration regions:  Ake Guzai, Barka, Dankalia, Gash-Setit, Hamsen, Sahel, Semhar and Senhit.


Federal Eritrea Regional map

This article argues that a federal system in Eritrea can be implemented by combining these 9 regional administration into 4 Federal states. The four federal states are relatively balanced in terms of population, resources, size and geography. More importantly, the fear of continuous domination of one ethnic or nationality group would be minimised. Those nationalities who still look for some kind of self-determination will be able to negotiate within their federal states the extent of their self-rule within their own regional administrations.

In this case Eritrea is divided into 4 Federal States making it a United States of Eritrea!

  1. Easter Federal State compromises of : Akkele-Guzay, Semhar and Dankalia
  2. Western Federal State  Compromises of: Gash-Setit and Seraye
  3. Northern Federeal State compromises of :  Senhit, Sahel and Barka
  4. Central Federal Sate compromises od : Hamsen
Eritrean Map

United States of Eritrea (USE)

It is time for all civil and political activists to stop putting their eyes in the sand and start working on the best formula of governance available to provide a lasting peace and prosperity for all Eritreans. If we are only waiting to create the ‘tyranny of the majority’, we must expect that the cycle of conflict and violence will not be avoided.

Ahmad Outhman

National service in Eritrea: Miserable and useless | The Economist

WHEN Isaias Afewerki, Eritrea’s president, introduced compulsory military service in 1995, he said it would be good for the emerging nation. Conscription was supposed to create a disciplined, hard-working generation, strengthen the army and instill national pride. Nearly 20 years on, new research reveals that thousands of Eritreans flee their country each year primarily to avoid the draft, which they liken to slavery.

National service requirements are harsh. Everyone under the age of 50 is enlisted for an indefinite period. Around one in 20 Eritreans currently live in vast barracks in the desert. They work on reconstruction projects, such as road building, and earn no more than $30 a month. They cannot go to university or get a formal job unless they have been officially released from military service. Since conscription became open-ended in 1998, release can depend on the arbitrary whim of a commander, and usually takes years.

In the first study into the impact of national service in Eritrea, Professor Gaim Kibreab, of London South Bank University, interviewed 215 former conscripts. They served an average of six and a half years, although some were in uniform for more than twice as long, before escaping abroad. “The government has held the youth hostage,” said one. “You cannot reconstruct a country on forced labour.” Others described “cruel and corrupt” camp commanders who “demand sexual favours” and threaten to kill conscripts who do not follow orders.

Conscription also undermines the fragile economy. Around 80% of the population are subsistence farmers but so many are absent that harvests routinely fail to meet the nation’s food needs. Some interviewees had seven siblings in the army. “My parents have suffered from poverty and depression as all of us were in national service,” said one. Labour shortages have increased the price of manufactured goods, making them among the most expensive in Africa. Resources are routinely diverted to the military.

Unwanted pregnancies among single women, once a taboo, have increased as mothers are usually excused from the draft. Eritreans cannot leave the country without government permission. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says around 2,000 escape illegally every month via Sudan or Ethiopia.

Dissent is outlawed and elections are on hold. Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council reported that basic freedoms were being repressed in the country and condemned the use of torture, disappearances and arbitrary detention. Mr Afewerki argues his harsh regime is necessary while Eritrea faces a security threat from neighbouring Ethiopia. A border dispute between the two countries is unresolved.

Eritrea’s army is now one of the largest in Africa but it may be the least motivated. “The hearts and minds of the conscripts are elsewhere, not in Eritrea,” said one former soldier. “A large majority spend their time planning to escape, and daydreaming. A defence force cannot be built by daydreamers.”

National service in Eritrea: Miserable and useless | The Economist.

الحرب في جنوب السودان تنتقل تدريجيا الى حرب اقليمية

تواجد الجنود الأوغنديين داخل جنوب السودان يعقد الموقف الدبلوماسي، ودعم ارتريا والسودان للمتمردين قد يشعل حرب بالوكالة مع اثيوبيا.

جوبا – يبعد الاقتتال المستمر أي احتمال لوقف إطلاق النار بين القوات الحكومية والمتمردين في جنوب السودان، حيث يتخوف المحللون من أن يشعل هذا النزاع المنطقة ليعيد الأعداء القدامى تاريخ حروبهم.

وتشهد المنطقة توترات بين عدوة جنوب السودان التاريخية وجارتها الشمالية السودان من جهة، وحليفتها الجديدة أوغندا من جهة ثانية. ويأتي ذلك في وقت تتخوف أثيوبيا، الوسيطة الأولى في نزاع جنوب السودان، من ادعاءات بأن أريتريا توصل السلاح من حليفتها الخرطوم إلى متمردي جنوب السودان.

وقال دبلوماسي غربي من دون الكشف عن اسمه، إن أسوأ سيناريو يناقش اليوم هو أن “تقاتل أوغندا السودان في دولة جنوب السودان الجديدة، وأن تقاتل أثيوبيا أريتريا، وذلك في غياب كامل للقانون والنظام”.

بدوره، اعتبر المحلل كاسي كوبلاند من منظمة مجموعة الأزمات الدولية في بروكسل، أنه في حال اتساع النزاع، يبقى السؤال “متى وليس إذا كان سيتحول إلى نزاع إقليمي”.

وما بدأ كنزاع بين رئيس جنوب السودان سيلفا كير ونائبه السابق رياك مشار، في كانون الأول/ ديسمبر قسم وبشكل سريع الجيش النظامي، كما أسهم في صعود المشاعر الاثنية في دولة ولدت منذ أقل من ثلاث سنوات، وبعد حرب طويلة مع الخرطوم لأكثر من خمسة عقود.

أما التوتر بين الرئيس الأوغندي يوري موسيفيني ونظيره السوداني عمر البشير، فيعود إلى دعم أوغندا لميليشيا جنوبية كانت تقاتل القوات السودانية في آخر مراحل الحرب الأهلية التي انتهت في 2005 باتفاق سلام، ولحقه بعد ست سنوات استقلال جنوب السودان.

ولطالما اتهمت أوغندا السودان بتمويل المجموعات المتمردة على أراضيها.

وفي وقت تدعم القوات الأوغندية وبشكل علني نظام كير، ويعيد المتمردون سيطرتهم على أراض قرب حقول النفط التي يصدر انتاجها عبر أنابيب تمر في السودان، فإن الخرطوم قد تتخذ قرارا بشن هجوم.

وأوضح الدبلوماسي الغربي “نحن قلقون من توسع النزاع إقليميا، فإن الأوغنديين والسودانيين يكرهون بعضهم”.

وبحسب تقارير، فإن المتمردين السودانيين في دارفور، والذين يحاربون الخرطوم منذ عقود، يشاركون في القتال إلى جانب النظام الجنوب سوداني في إقليم الوحدة النفطي. وليس هم فقط، وإنما أيضاً بعض الميليشيات الإثنية من مناطق متفرقة من جنوب دولة السودان يشاركون في القتال، الأمر الذي يسهم أكثر في توتير العلاقات بين الدولتين.

وجراء ذلك كله، هناك تخوف حقيقي من أن السودان قد يلجأ إلى تكتيكاته القديمة في تمويل مجموعات لتحارب عنه بالوكالة أو إلى تسليح المعارضة، فيما لا تعير أوغندا أي انتباه لدعوات الانسحاب من القتال. أما انتاج النفط فيبقى مهددا.

وقد شهد العام 2012 توترا جراء الخلاف على رسوم مرور نفط جنوب السودان في الأنابيب الشمالية، الأمر الذي أسفر عن توقف الإنتاج حوالي 18 شهرا.

وبعد توتر ساهم في تراجع اقتصاد الدولتين، وقع كير والبشير اتفاقا حول النفط والأمن، تخلله وعودا بأن يتوقف كل طرف عن تمويل أعداء الطرف الآخر.

وبالنتيجة، فإن النزاع الحالي يهدد الاتفاق المذكور فضلا عن عائدات جنوب السودان النفطية، خصوصا أن البعض يحاجج بأن تدخل أوغندا لصالح نظام كير ليس سوى ورقة مساومة نفطية.

واعترف وزير دفاع جنوب السودان مؤخرا بأن جنود القوات الأوغندية في بلاده يقبضون رواتبهم، في تناقض مع تصريحات زملائه الذين يصرون على عدم وجود أي قوات أجنبية في البلاد.

ولم تهدأ التكهنات حول ما قدم جنوب السودان لأوغندا من اجل الحصول على مساعدتها. وفي هذا الصدد، قال الدبلوماسي “سمعت أنهم قدموا واحدا من مواقعهم النفطية، أو نسبة كبيرة من النفط يوميا”.

وقد أسهم قرار جنوب السودان في بناء خط أنابيب آخر عبر كينيا أو جيبوتي في استفزاز الخرطوم من جهة، وفي زيادة أمل أوغندا بإيصالها بأنبوب نفط في شرقي أفريقيا من جهة ثانية، فضلا عن قدرتها على بناء منشأة للتكرير خاصة بها.

ولكن في الوقت الحالي تواجه دولة جنوب السودان، الغنية نفطيا، حربا أسهمت في نزوح حوالي مليون شخص، في حين يتساءل الكثيرون إن كانت الدولة الوليدة ستحافظ على وجودها أصلا.

وقال محلل، رفض الكشف عن اسمه، إن “خبراء المالية في العالم يتوقعون أن تفلس الحكومة خلال شهرين أو ثلاثة”.

وقد لعبت الصين، أحد المستثمرين الكبار في قطاع جنوب السودان النفطي، دورا في دعم حكومة كير ماليا عبر مشاريع تطويرية وقروض، وهي تزيد اليوم من تدخلها في الشؤون السياسية الداخلية.

وبالرغم من ذلك، يبدو من الصعب أن تؤثر الصين على التوترات الإقليمية، حيث تزيد التخوفات من تكرار التاريخ لنفسه في ما يتعلق بتوترات التسليح والنفط والحدود.

وفي هذا الصدد، قال جون بيرنديغاست في تقرير لمشروع “كفى” لوقف المجازر، إن “السيناريو الكابوسي يتكشف في المنطقة”.

ودعا إلى إجراء تحقيق في ما إذا كانت أريتريا توصل السلاح من السودان إلى متمردي الدولة الجنوبية، وإلى فرض عقوبات إضافية على أسمرة تضاف إلى تلك المفروضة عليها لدعمها المجموعات المسلحة في الصومال.

ويشك بيرنديغاست في أن تدخل محادثات السلام في أديس ابابا مرحلة جدية إذا لم ينتهي “التواجد العلني” للقوات الأوغندية في جنوب السودان.

ولكن، وحتى لو غابت جميع العوامل الخارجية، من الممكن أن تستمر حرب جنوب السودان لسنوات عدة، وذلك بسبب انتشار الفساد من جهة وعزم قياديي الميليشيات السابقين على القتال من جهة ثانية.

Ethiopians return home to a bleak future

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Ahmed, 20 years old, weakly sits down in a chair under the hot sun, dazed, as young men and women jostle in the yard around him. He has just been deported from Saudi Arabia after a month-long imprisonment, like the others at this crowded migrant transit center in Ethiopia’s capital.

But Ahmed’s ordeal is unique. He bears fresh scars across his knees, down his upper arms, and across his stomach. With a medical investigation by an Ethiopian doctor still ongoing, preliminary results show so far that Ahmed is missing his left kidney. 

His short-term memory fails him. Ahmed, who comes from Ethiopia’s central Amhara region, does remember paying a couple hundred dollars to human smugglers for the dangerous, illegal passage to Djibouti, across the sea to Yemen, and north to Saudi Arabia. 

He worked for a year and a half as a carpenter in Riyadh, living with other Ethiopian migrants and sending home meagre wages to his impoverished family. 

Three months ago Ahmed recalls waking up in a Riyadh hospital room with jagged wounds crisscrossing his body, but with no recollection about how he got them, or how he got there. Promptly transferred to an overcrowded Riyadh prison because of his illegal immigration status, Ahmed was finally deported home by plane a few weeks ago. He is waiting to hear the doctor’s final prognosis before he returns to his village, a sickly version of his former self. 

‘Coming back empty-handed’

“It’s not just the return, it’s also the effect of what happens after,” explained Sara Hamo, a protection officer with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in Addis Ababa, about the thousands of deportees. “They are coming back empty-handed. They used to supply money and now they are a burden on the families they used to provide for. So the return is just the beginning.”

While accounts like Ahmed’s missing kidney are rare, many Ethiopians at the migrant transit centre talked about torture in ad-hoc detention centres run by traffickers, most often for ransom, as well as beatings, sex abuse, gruelling work hours and wages withheld by Saudi employers.

Bereket Feleke, a health ministry official, said respiratory tract infections were the most common ailment returnees suffer, which they get from being held for weeks in overcrowded and filthy detention centres before deportation. 

Ethiopian women and girls, often recruited by employment agencies as domestic workers, fly to Saudi Arabia and are legally bound to their employers, who withhold their passports. If the workers break their contract – willingly or forced - their status becomes illegal. A similar system of employee “sponsorship”, known askafala, exists across many of the Gulf states. But many more Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia are smuggled in, further increasing their vulnerability for exploitation. 

Travel ban

Because of widespread abuse, the Ethiopian government has issued a temporary travel ban on domestic workers while it works on a protection law. Critics say this could encourage more illegal migration. 

Last November, the kingdom’s authorities enforced strict labour laws governing foreign workers after a seven-month reprieve, spurred partly by the potential security threat of thousands of unemployed Saudi youth. And Saudi Arabian vigilante groups in Riyadh, armed with clubs and machetes, brutally attacked Ethiopian migrants in November, prompting tens of thousands of the workers to turn themselves in to the kingdom’s authorities out of fear.

The police arrested Abigail. Without her passport and valid working papers, she was imprisoned and deported. There is an anger within the Ethiopian population, said Temesgen Deressa, a guest scholar with the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institute. They have been targeted - killed, or tortured and dehumanised.”

“In terms of the whole economy, the remittances might not be significant, but the returnees’ families are going to be hard-hit,” he said. “There is a high level of poverty in Ethiopia, and I don’t think the Ethiopian government has the capacity for rehabilitation. Basically, the returnees will have a very hard time.”

Source : Aljazeera

Nile Basin countries including Eritrea to meet in Uganda over trans-boundary power generation

The Nile Basin countries will this week meet in the Ugandan capital Kampala to deliberate on how they can harness the benefits of the Nile through trans-boundary power generation.

Betty Bigombe, Uganda’s minister of state for water, told reporters here on Wednesday that the 10 countries under the Nile Basin Initiative will meet on Feb. 21. The member states include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Bigombe said the meeting is part of the commemoration of the Nile Day whose theme this year is “Water and Energy: National Challenges, Trans-boundary Solutions”.

“If each Nile Riparian State was to pursue and implement its national hydro power infrastructure development plans on the River Nile without consideration of the larger river basin context, there is a risk that some of the national hydropower investment could be sub optimal and foreclose future development opportunities,” she said.

“Trans-boundary cooperation in power infrastructure development would provide significant reduction in project financing, promote regional power trade and markets and improve power reliability and affordability,” she added.

She said there are ongoing power interconnection projects which will facilitate power trade among the Nile Basin member states.

She cited the Regional Transmission Interconnection Project which will facilitate power trade among Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The project under implementation will construct an estimated 1,500 km of transmission lines and associated sub- stations at a total cost of 403 million U.S. dollars.

Nile River

Besides the power interconnection projects there are other power investment projects which include the soon to be implemented 470 million dollars Regional Rusumo Falls Hydro-electric project, which will generate 80 MW that will benefit Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Source: KAMPALA, Feb 19, 2014 (Xinhua via COMTEX) –