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Baird Furthers Canada’s Interests and Values in Kenya

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

OTTAWA, Canada, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today signalled Canada’s interest in growing trade and investment with Kenya and our intent to meaningfully engage when it comes to shared values.

Canada looks forward to both countries beginning exploratory discussions regarding a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement to help create a safer, more stable environment for investors and economic opportunities for both countries.

“Our government is focused on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” said Baird. “When it comes to African markets, Kenya is a major player, and increasing trade ties will benefit both countries.”

The potential for increased Canadian investment in Kenya is important and Canada is keen to explore opportunities for freer trade generally with Kenya and the East African Community, especially for Canadian natural resource companies, which are becoming leaders in the Kenyan mining and oil and gas industries.

Baird highlighted that greater commercial engagement and people-to-people ties come with the opportunity and responsibility to engage on protecting and promoting Canadian values.

To that end, Baird held a round-table meeting with defenders of the rights of sexual minorities in East Africa.

“In too many places, people are branded as criminals or made victims of violence because of their sexuality,” said Baird. “Canada is a leading defender of human rights for all, and I applaud the courage and conviction of those advocates working on the ground to improve the lives of sexual minorities.”

Baird also encouraged Kenya’s newly elected government to continue its engagement with the International Criminal Court.

 

SOURCE

Canada – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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GAMBIA: GOVERNMENT BANS SKYPE AND VIBER FREE PHONE CALLS

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Amat JENG

In a move that is angering Diaspora Gambians and their families back home, The Gambia government on Thursday announced the banning of all local and long distance Skype and Viber free calls in The Gambia–citing what it calls “the major financial loss that government is accruing due to Skype and Viber free calls,” the Freedomnewspaper reports.

The Gambia government has also banned online dating in the impoverished West Africa cocaine hub nation. Internet providers, companies and users here have been strictly warned to comply with the the ban imposed on Skype and Viber phone calls by the government.

Analysts said the Gambia government is violating international Internet access protocols by banning Skype and Viber free calls. But PURA said the ban will enhance the government’s revenue collection rate in the area of telecommunication. PURA warns all stakeholders must comply with the new directive.

“PURA wishes to inform the general public that it has come to its notice that there are companies and/or individuals operating through Internet Cafes and offering Dating services and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services as a commercially available service to the public in The Gambia. Therefore, all are hereby informed that such practices are not authorized,” PURA strictly warns.

“Furthermore, PURA wishes to make it abundantly clear that the offering of “International and National Calling Services” within Internet Cafes using VoIP services (Viber, Skype, etc) is strictly prohibited. Anyone who is engaged in this activity is depriving the country of the much needed revenue from International and National calls, required for the development of The Gambia,” the statement further warned.

Skype and Viber are free Internet applications, which allows its users to download, share files, video conference and make local and international phone calls without going through government controlled telecommunications.

There is little that PURA and the Gambia government can do to stop IPhone users downloading the Skype and Viber applications. A worst case scenario the government might resort to blocking Skype and Viber, but such a move might not speak well for the regime.

Also as part of the European Union Article 8, 17 points demand dialogue program with the Gambia government, the EU prevailed on the Jammeh regime to lift the ban on Internet access–most importantly the exiled online media. The European body also asked the government to reopen the Daily News, Standard Newspaper, and the Teranga FM radio.

In response, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh summoned a cabinet, which was televised live on state TV, GRTS. Jammeh flatly rejected the EU Demands–accusing the EU of trying to install a “puppet government.” What followed next was a nationwide protest organized by the government branding the European Union as “Saboteurs” and also agents of violence.

The government’s decision to ban Skype and Viber free calls, followed a growing disenchantment amongst the populace here, who uses Skype to call a US based online Internet Radio–Freedom Radio Gambia to vent their anger and displeasure against the Jammeh dictatorship.

The emergence of Skype and Viber have made it much easier for Gambians to place free long distance phone calls to Freedom Radio and their families overseas. The radio attracts millions of hits per month. Its target audience is: Diasporan Gambians, Gambians back home, US, EU and African policy makers.

The Gambia government is increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of information coming out of the country and also the public’s recent disapproval of dictator Yahya Jammeh’s government handling of the economy and the situation of governance. There is growing public dissatisfaction against Jammeh’s one man rule.

This is not the first time that the Gambia government has attempted to censor the Internet. The US State Department in its annual Human Rights report on Gambia criticized the Jammeh government for blocking the IP address of the Freedom Newspaper and that of the Gambia Echo Newspaper–both North Carolina based Gambian owned media houses. The US State Department said Internet freedom has been restricted in the Gambia.

PURA said it would like to warn anybody involved in either of the above activities to immediately desist doing so.

“In a bid to protect our national interest, PURA is urging the general public to be vigilant with regards to the above, and to report any suspicious activities to PURA by calling 148 free on all networks, between 8.30am to 6.00pm (Mondays to Thursdays),” PURA concluded.

Mr. Tony Bates Skype CEO could not be reached for immediate comment at the time of going to press.

Source: Freedomnewspaper

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ICG’s Conjectures on Eritrea: Realistic and Probable or Wishful and Imaginary?

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Africa Business

Eritrean Center for Strategic Studies, ECSS

On 28 March last month, the ICG released a report entitled: “Eritrea: Scenarios for Future Transition”. Unfortunately, as we illustrate below[1], ICG’s primary sources are mostly the same circle of personalities and entities that harbor a hostile agenda against Eritrea while its basic presumptions are predicated on a superfluous predilection to project a calamitous trend of imminent “doom and gloom”.   As it happened, these skewed approaches have rendered its scenario analysis extremely flawed, and, rather wishful and imaginary.

Political forecasting is not, admittedly, an exact science; it is a messy business indeed.   Still, it’s critical usefulness cannot be glossed over.   The architectures of conflict prevention and management depend on perceptive and sufficiently reliable early warning systems for a timely prognosis of fault lines and trends in order to avoid or mitigate crisis conditions.   But this task requires, in the first place, the existence of a potential crisis-situation as well as objective, neutral and dispassionate appraisal of political realities and trends on the basis of full and accurate information.  The ICG report is found wanting on all these critical parameters.

The ICG’s current report is a follow-up of its last report on Eritrea released on 21 September 2010 with the title “ERITREA: A SIEGE STATE”.   It was claimed then that the report was compiled in ten years of thorough field research that the think tank conducted inside and outside Eritrea.[2] ICG experts visited Eritrea for extensive interviews with senior government officials and canvassed the opinion of various internal sources of their choice.  But even then, there was a lingering impression among most knowledgeable observers of the Eritrean reality that the ICG was more inclined in corroborating a certain pre-conceived narrative rather than honestly and fairly depicting a balanced and nuanced picture.

This time around, the gloves are off and the ICG appears to have discarded all pretentions of objectivity and neutrality.  The ICG claims that it was denied entry to Eritrea although this remains contested by officials in Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry.[3] Whatever the case, and although the ECSS understands that the ICG did maintain some perfunctory communication with the Eritrean Mission to the UN5, the current report is conspicuous for its failure to cite official and neutral and credible sources for countervailing opinion and/or the validation of the facts and events that are described with authority.

Furthermore, and as we highlight below, the welter of information that the ICG cobbled together essentially emanate from rumorsand innuendos6 that are attributed to undisclosed sources.  This is rationalized by considerations of confidentiality.[4] Nonetheless, it casts deeper doubt on the validity of its postulates and conjectures since these “confidential interlocutors” that provided the baseline data may well be affiliated to fringe groups that espouse certain political agendas.   A cursory analysis of the 156 footnotes attached to the report illustrates that 71 % fall in that category. This is unduly large.  And, as we intimated above, the remaining references are virtually recycled data provided by the usual, Eritrea-bashing, hostile elements and groups. These glaring shortcomings of data collection and validation can only dent the reputation of the ICG besides carving out a gaping puncture on the reliability, coherence and probability of the “scenarios of transition” that it envisages.

For purposes of illustration, we cite below some of the outlandish rumors that the ICG blindly replicates in its report without questioning their validity.

· Isaias’s disappearance from public view for several weeks in April 2012 amid rumours of his illness and death made evident the lack of a succession plan;[5]

· During the latter half of 2012, more rumors circulated about disagreements inside the regime on the direction of the country, as well as Isaias’s leadership;[6]

· In November 2012 there were rumors of a round of arrests and “freezing” of senior military leaders including the defense minister, Sebhat Ephrem;[7]

· There are rumors the skeptics have asked the President to step aside and support a smooth, internal transition, so as to avoid the country’s collapse….[8]

· The military …appears to have maintained a certain degree of autonomy, such that it has reportedly (sic) questioned Isaias’s capacity to retain control and asked him to consider a transition at various points in the recent past;[9]

· The posters created for the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of liberation… portray Isaias in the image of Jesus Christ, the shepherd of the people, leading elders of both low and highlands;[10]

· Isaias has been grooming his son for succession;[11]

· The incident of 21 January 2013 is described as an event that was “not unprecedented” but as “the most recent in a number of unreported events”.[12] The report further states “the government reportedly negotiated with the soldiers, and in the end, the Ministry’s employees were released”.[13]

All these assertions are at variance with the true facts and represent gullible regurgitation of wild stories that normally thrive in the grape vine. In a nutshell, the litany of rumor-inspired, unsubstantiated, facts; the blunders of methodological omission and commission, are too many for ICG’s prognosis and “scenarios of transition” to be taken seriously.  After all, if the diagnosis of a presumed illness is wrong in the first place, the prescribed antidote will not only be useless but it may turn out to be toxic.

We now revert to examine in some detail the ICG’s substantive conjectures.

1. Aggravated Ethnic and Religious fault lines

The ICG report paints a curiously explosive picture in regard to potential ethnic and religious conflicts and strife in Eritrea.   To drive the point home, it opines:  “Eritrean diversity, especially the Christian–Muslim divide”,[14] may usher in social upheavals.  The ICG waxes alarmist particularly in other sections of the report when it warns: “existing ethnic and religious divisions may come into play in a confrontation between military factions…leading to a disastrous civil war”,[15] (emphasis ours).

This sudden, doomsday, prognosis is not only utterly wrong, but it contradicts the ICG’s own report as spelled out in its previous report, which was the result, by its own admissions, of ten years meticulous research in Eritrea.  This is what the ICG had to say on the same subject in its September 2010 report:

Despite occasional conflict (sic) and the marked diversity, Eritrea has by and large avoided the kind of serious interethnic and religious strife associated with the region. Economic lifestyles, cultures, faiths and ethnicities have mostly coexisted peacefully. Church and mosque have stood side by side, occasional clashes notwithstanding.[16]

National cohesiveness and identity in Eritrea is, indeed, robust by all accounts; transcending parochial sentiments and allegiances to exclusive ethnic and/or religious sectarianism.  Whatever it’s other problems, the Eritrean polity has been blessed with ethnic and religious harmony that has further been reinforced in the past twenty two years of independence. The periodic communal/tribal infightings that erupt in virtually all the neighbouring countries and, the deep sentiments of religious/ethnic marginalization that characterize diverse communities in our region are literally inexistent in Eritrea.  These have come about as a result of history, the long years of armed struggle as well as judicious government policies anchored on equality of rights and opportunities for all its constituent parts.  The ICG’s new narrative of a volatile, worrisome, trend towards “ethnic/religious civil war” is thus a malevolent chimera that exists only in the minds of Eritrea’s detractors.

2. Forceful nation building

The ICG describes, in a rather deprecating manner, Eritrea’s normative trajectory of nation building as a failed, “forceful process”.[17]

This statement provokes a host of questions both in terms of abstract political theory as well as underlying motive.  In the ICG’s inexplicable view, nation building in the Eritrean case is found to be “forceful” because the “PFDJ has been seeking to further entrench the notion of a single national identity as defined during the struggle”[18]?  In the first place, Eritrean national identity was not forged or invented during the 30 years of liberation war.  Present-day Eritrea was shaped by European colonialism as is the case in the rest of Africa.  And in any case, the post-liberation political process could not have occurred on an artificial and centrifugal setting of polarizing a cohesive national society along ethnic and religious identities if that is what the ICG is alluding to.  The politics of ethnic institutionalization pursued by some countries in the region and that have been enshrined in their Constitutions is certainly not a positive example that must be emulated by Eritrea.  These political precepts are not only dangerous and a recipe for perpetual strife but they are not also warranted by the Eritrean reality.  In as far as ethnic/religious harmony during the armed liberation struggle is concerned; Eritrea’s positive experience had attracted almost universal accolades from all historians and political pundits associated with those times.[19] ICG’s concerns for that period are thus difficult to comprehend.

3. Peace with Ethiopia

The ICG’s position on this cardinal issue is difficult to decipher.  The imperative for Ethiopia to abide by its treaty obligations and to respect international law; the enhancement of regional peace and security that this would entail is not examined from its legal and political perspectives and is curiously absent from its lengthy discourse.  It is totally ignored in the Executive Summary where the ICG suggests various “recommendations” purportedly to address all the critical problems that require urgent solution.

In the sections where it broaches the subject, its point of departure is a presumptive acknowledgement that there are no indications “for unprecedented opening or softening of the previous policy”[20]on the part of Ethiopia.  The ICG then concludes, even if not in so many words, that the compromise must emanate from Eritrea.  What follows next is simply absurd.   The ICG quotes an anonymous “Eritrean analyst” to state:

“… In the event of a regime change, the Generals cannot last long without making peace with Ethiopia… Eritreans would propose negotiations on the status of Badme; a decision the population would not contest….there is no way for the Eritrean nation to survive as it is, if it does not make peace with Ethiopia.  It will, simply, collapse.[21]

The ICG then proceeds to outline steps that a “transitional government” could be expected to take … to open negotiations with Ethiopia in the eventuality/scenario of a Peaceful Transition to Multiparty Democracy.[22]

This analysis is too crass and simplistic to merit serious exposition.   Obviously, the ICG has no clue and is out of sync with mainstream Eritrean political opinion. Even the inconsequential Eritrean armed groups that Ethiopia supports for subversive reasons would not contemplate making concessions on Badme or any other sovereign Eritrean territories.  Apparently, the ICG also suffers from an acute lapse of institutional memory.  Because this is what it had to say in its previous report:

The international community, in particular donors and the Security Council, repeatedly failed to pressure Ethiopia to comply.  Eritrea’s sense of outrage heightened, notwithstanding that the Claims Commission ruled that it violated international law during its military operation in may 1998, in effect, had started the war.[23]

The key point is that the Eritreans felt Ethiopia was once again being appeased by an international community that was tacitly or explicitly hostile to Eritrea. The already deep-rooted sense of isolation and betrayal was reinforced.[24]

The international community erred seriously in 2002 in not putting greater pressure on Ethiopia to fully implement the Boundary Commission’s findings.[25]

4. The Vulnerabilities of the Eritrean State:

Perhaps because of its sources or for reasons better known to it, the ICG’s overarching intention seems to prove not only the “extreme vulnerability of the Eritrean Government” but even the “non-viability of the nation itself”.  The “inevitable collapse of the State and the threat this poses to regional security”, as well as the “weakness and fragmentation of the opposition… and the difficulty of reconciling the political cultures of PFDJ members and Diaspora leaders” are invoked for greater dramatization.

And, to cap it all, the ICG quotes again, an anonymous but “long time observer of the Eritrean reality”, who states:

“Is the system reformable from within…even after Isaias’ removal? …Is Isaias’s absence from the Eritrean political system the answer to all the problems of the nation? Ultimately will Eritrea ever be viable as a nation?”[26]

With all these hyperbole in the background, the ICG considers “six scenarios of transition” which are all permutations of, and predicated on, the sequel after the “prior removal of the President”, by whatever means.  Indeed, in almost all the sections that follow, the ICG emphatically envisions and calls for “the President’s exit”, which it describes as “if not the sole one”, but “still as the absolute sine qua non for transition”.  Isaias’s exit … “is about surely a precondition for anything much to change”,[27] we are reminded time and again!

What is pushing the ICG to dwell on and forecast cataclysmic developments in Eritrea in the times ahead?  Surely, this cannot be a logical extrapolation from the isolated incident that transpired on January 21st early this year.  As we emphasized in the first part of this article, ICG’s almost singular reliance on hostile sources may partially explain this muddled output.   But one would have expected the ICG to consult more objective diplomatic and other sources as well as published materials.  Although we do not subscribe to the underlying concept and analytic methods employed, the annual Index of Failed States,[28] for instance, ranks Eritrea in the upper middle rung, i.e. less prone to potential turmoil than Ethiopia and other countries in the region.  ICG’s obsession with its conjecture is thus difficult to comprehend.

The other intriguing element in the whole report is the obvious disconnect between the recommendations in the Executive Summary and the rest of the report including the “six transition scenarios”.  In the Executive Summary, the recommendations have two parts: the first option dwells on proposals for coordinated action by regional and international players in order to “promote talks with President Isaias Afwerki and the current leadership with a view to avert chaos and further displacement of populations”.[29] The second option focuses on residual measures that must be taken by the “US, EU and countries with special relations with Eritrea” in the event of “transition”.[30] But, as explained above, the entire report then swerves into a different discourse anchored on the agenda of imminent, inevitable and necessary “regime change”.   One is led to believe that the two parts of the article were written by two groups of researchers with disparate views and conclusions.  And these were not reconciled when the end product was published.  The report thus fails even to meet minimum editorial standards.

5. External intervention

The ICG does not conceal its overriding aim of establishing a case for external intervention. The scenarios it envisages for such an eventuality are however puzzling.  This is what it has to say in its scenario of External Mediation or Domination.[31]

Dragged for various reasons, Addis Ababa and Khartoum could play at their intervention in two ways: either a political agreement on how to establish peace (perhaps through IGAD) and setting a closely mentored government or by splitting the country in effect into zones of influence as has happened in south-central Somalia. Alternatively, should a regional agreement over Eritrea not be reached, they could offer direct or material support to competing Eritrean factions in order to satisfy their national and regional security interests.[32]

In the last scenario of Regime Change with Ethiopian intervention, the ICG envisages a positive role being played by the new post-Meles leadership in which the latter offers a transitional leadership in Asmara a fresh diplomatic start, reopening economic ties and providing support for a non-partisan, inclusive, political initiative.[33]

We have never come across such a brazen and horrid apology or advocacy of colonialism under the disguise of academic research work.  In the first place, what would be the contents of a “fresh diplomatic start” by Ethiopia and what are the dividends to Eritrea?  If the ICG is privy to any “concessions” that Ethiopia is prepared make to respect the border rulings of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission in the event of a “transition”, it does not spell them out in the report.  And in any case, the ICG had categorically asserted in previous sections of the same report that there will not be any “new opening on the border problem on the part of the new Ethiopian government” thus throwing the gauntlet to Eritrea for any progress on that front.  So what is this fresh diplomatic start?  The re-opening of economic ties is another riddle that begs more nuanced answers.  Although mutual benefits that may accrue from bilateral trade may not be discounted, the asymmetric advantages to Eritrea are not clear particularly as the report does not at all discuss economic issues and development strategies and policies in Eritrea, Ethiopia or the region as a whole.  Ethiopia’s potential support for a “non-partisan, inclusive, political initiative” only underscores the authors’ utter ignorance of the political dynamics in the region.  In the first place, Ethiopia – the old regime as well as its successor – is enmeshed in the political quagmire of ethnic and highly partisan politics in its own country.   In Eritrea, Ethiopia’s futile policy of regime change has been pursued in the last ten years by mainly propping up what it calls the “Kunama and Afar Liberation Fronts”.   And, in a report where incoherent and mutually contradictory conclusions appear in successive paragraphs, the ICG also states:

Any Ethiopian intervention would likely have a security rather than a democratic agenda.  Hawkish responses are conceivable; Ethiopia could seal the border or seize the opportunity to support one faction in Asmara.  It might even take advantage of instability to achieve one of the longstanding goals of hard-liners, control of the port of Assab in order to end the country’s land-locked status.[34]

The positive role that the ICG assigns to other regional actors similarly provokes more questions than answers.  The ICG professes to be keenly aware of grave fault lines that obtain in the region’s countries in its multiple publications. It has written extensively on the dangers posed by the precarious leadership transition in Ethiopia (though without dwelling on the challenges this poses, as well as the internal dynamics of instability in the country).   It has also written, in its recent reports, on what it has termed as the “embattled situation of the ruling National Congress Party in Sudan”, as well as the “electoral unrest in Djibouti”.[35] Yet despite its gloomy predictions on the potential consequences of these fault lines, it argues for entrusting Eritrea’s troubled neighboring States with the responsibility of “managing change in Eritrea”.  This haphazard and ill-advised advice is indeed  confusing and difficult to fathom.    The ICG advocates, on the one hand, for an “urgent need for transition in Eritrea to ensure its stability” and for the “benefit of the entire region”.[36] At the same time, it envisages this change to come about through the intervention of Eritrea’s neighbors when each of them is embroiled in perhaps deeper political quagmire.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the ICG did not set out to appraise the reality in Eritrea in good faith.  It must have started its research work from a pre-conceived conclusion.  The end result is not really a professional and objective work of situation analysis but a catalogue of biases and suggestive conjectures.


[1] In both the current report and its predecessor, the ICG makes repeated reference to individuals and entities that espouse hostile attitudes towards Eritrea, being at the same time ardent champions of regime change. The list includes Bereket Habteselassie, Berouk Mesfin (a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies who finds it difficult to divorce  from the version of the Ethiopian government when writing on Eritrea)  Dan Connell, Gaim Kibreab, Kjetel Tronvor, Leonard Vincent (author of Les Erytheens and cofounder of a Paris-based anti-Eritrean radio station), Martin Plaut, Tekeste Negash who is opposed to Eritrean independence, and Yosief Ghebrehiwet a permanent contributor of anti-regime articles in the Gedab News, a website devoted to Eritrean division and referred to repeatedly in ICG reports. Other entities of similar category referred to in the ICG reports are the TPLF website aigaform.com, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders.

[2] International Crisis Group, Eritrea the Siege State Africa Report No.136 31 September 2010 p.1

[3] ECSS interview with Dr. Fessehatzion Petros, Foreign Office, Asmara,

[4] International Crisis Group, Eritrea: Scenarios for Future Transition African report No.200 28March 2013, p.2, see fn. 6.

[5] Ibid, p.7

[6] Ibid, p.8

[7] Ibid, see fn.41

[8] Ibid, p.16

[9] Ibid, p.10

[10] Ibid, see fn. 62

[11] Ibid,  p.22

[12] Ibid,  p.6

[13] Ibid,  p.4

[14] Ibid, see fn. 2.

[15] Ibid, p.24

[16] ICG, Report No.136, p.17

[17] ICG Report 200 see Executive Summary.

[18] Ibid, p. 12

[19] Reference to witnesses made by several close observers which among others included: Basil Davidson and Dan Connell.

[20] ICG Report No.200, p.24.

[21] Ibid, see fn.140.

[22] Ibid, p.26

[23] Ibid, p.21

[24] ibid

[25] Ibid, p.25

[26] Ibid, see fn.118

[27] Ibid, p.21

[28] Failed States Index , 2010,2011,2012

[29] ICG Report No. 200; see Executive Summary.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid, p.25

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid p.27

[34] Ibid, p.27

[35] Ibid p.28

[36] Ibid.

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Ethiopia: Minority Regime’s Fiefdom Syndrome

Posted on 13 April 2013 by Africa Business

Sophia Tesfamariam

Ethiopia- Minority Regime’s Fiefdom Syndrome (Acrobat Reader .pdf)

In the past, I have written about the regime in Ethiopia, its incurable inferiority complex and crab mentality, its refusal to abide by international and bilateral Agreements it has signed, and from respecting international law, UN Security Council resolutions and most of all, from respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. Successive Ethiopian regimes have presented themselves as being more “diplomatic”, “more sophisticated”, “peace loving” etc. etc. than others in the region and beyond. This delusional self assessment has prevented them from seeing themselves as they really are- weak, frightened and myopic.

The minority regime attempts to present itself as a law abiding member of the international community, and it abuses and undermines the very institutions that it hails in public. It does that, not because it has the diplomatic, economic or political prowess to do so, but because it relies on its handlers to cover up its crimes, and has employed and perfected certain ploys that it believes have served it well in the last 21 years. For brevity’s sake, I will list the regime’s favorite gimmicks used in both its international and domestic affairs. It will help readers understand its mental schema. In business, the term “Fiefdom Syndrome”[1] explains how certain toxic cliques have detrimental effects on a company’s health. Let us see the toxic TPLF cliques “Fiefdom Syndrome” and how it affects its handling of domestic and international issues.

1. Seeks Powerful Alliances

Ethiopia is a poor country that relies on donors for 60% of its national budget. Ethiopias handlers have been touting “11% economic growth” in Ethiopia, but sadly, despite the billions funneled into the country from various donors, Ethiopia remains one of the countries that will not be meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, will not achieve food security or make any progress in the standard of living of its people. The recent World Bank Report found corruption ripe in Ethiopia’s economic, health, education, telecommunication, land and other sectors. 17 billion dollars have disappeared from the countries coffers. Gold reserves have mysteriously vanished from its bank vaults etc. etc.

Lacking economic and political power, the regime’s cadres are seen wheedling “their way into powerful circles”, ingratiating themselves to western powers and using it as a “weapon of choice”. The minority regime in Ethiopia, lacking confidence in its own abilities, lacking legitimacy in its own country, chooses to advance its domestic and international agendas by latching onto powerful nations such as France, the United States and the United Kingdom. From feeding its people, to managing its political affairs, to managing its economy, these nations and their tentacled subsidiaries, “advisors’, “consultants”, run the country and its government. For a nation that prides itself as being the only one not colonized in the past, it is today, practically the most colonized state in Africa.

There are many examples of how Ethiopia reaches out to its handlers in order to effectuate its political agendas. For example, when Ethiopia wanted to break the close and neighborly relations between Djibouti and Eritrea, it relied on the United States to use its leverage in Djibouti. Let us take a look at a US Embassy cable that best illustrates this. September 2006 cable “ETHIOPIA: DEPUTY MINISTER TEKEDA TALKS SOMALIA, REGIONAL ISSUES WITH DAS YAMAMOTO”, details the conversation between the then Deputy Minister Tekeda Alemu and US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto. The cable says:

“…The Government of Djibouti’s opposition to IGAD actions in Somalia are the result of its fear of Eritrean President Isaias, Tekeda said, as well as President Guelleh’s personal business interests with Eritrea. The Deputy Foreign Minister speculated that the Djiboutian leadership was worried that Eritrea would support Afari separatist movements, as Isaias had done successfully in Sudan, if Djibouti did not follow Eritrea’s lead in Somalia. Tekeda also told Yamamoto that Aweys and other CIC leaders had stopped in Djibouti to meet with President Guelleh on their way back from Libya the week before. Tekeda maintained that the GOD was “on the wrong path,” and added that Djibouti was not strong enough to take Ethiopia’s continued friendship and forbearance for granted…”

But that was not all. Here is the rest of it:

“…Tekeda urged that the USG speak frankly with Djibouti about its role in the region. He said that President Guelleh would pay attention to U.S. concerns given the importance to him of the U.S. military base in Djibouti. “He must be told to choose” whose side he wanted to take…”

I don’t know what Donald Yamamoto’s response was to Tekeda Alemu’s request to break up Djibouti-Eritrea relations, or what the US did, but in less than a year, Djibouti-Eritrea relations had soured and the two countries were on the brink of war.  US Ambassadors in the Horn and the US Ambassador at the United Nations were instrumental in getting sanctions regime against the State of Eritrea and the Djibouti-Eritrea issue was orchestrated in order to get “stand alone sanctions” against Eritrea.

2. Camouflage

If there is one gimmick that the regime in Ethiopia has perfected to date is the one of creating distractions, to divert attention away from itself, its domestic crimes against humanity,  and its lawlessness. These tactics involve, “emphasizing the inconsequential”, “sending someone off on a wild goose chase” or “deliberately triggering someone’s anxiety buttons”. The Djibouti-Eritrea is a perfect example. While the regime’s forces have violated international law, the Algiers Agreements, over two dozen Security Council resolutions on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border and have been occupying sovereign Eritrean territories for the last 12 years, with the help of their handlers, they exaggerated and escalated the non-existent Djibouti Eritrea border issue.

Instead of taking responsibility for the security of its citizens and others in its territories, the minority regime blames Eritrea for everything that happens in Ethiopia and beyond. Presenting itself as a peace loving regime, its cadres have scoped the globe tarnishing Eritrea’s image and that of its leadership, whilst committing untold crimes against its own people, committing genocides in the Gambela, Ogaden and Oromia regions of Ethiopia, advancing it ethnic cleansing policies against the Amhara under the cover of the “villagization” program etc. Its crimes and human rights violations are hidden from the world because it has “friends” in high places.

3. Invisible Walls

Actively instigating actions or creating counterproductive perceptions so that an argued directive will be, if not impossible, extremely difficult to implement. The minority regime in Ethiopia has come up with several gimmicks to advance its anti-Eritrea agendas and has no problem creating new ones when others fail. The call for dialogue with Eritrea while refusing to vacate from sovereign Eritrean territories, the acceptance “in principle” the final and binding decisions of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the off again, on again 5 Point Peace Plan etc. are just a few examples of the “mazes and false pathways” that it has established in order to frustrate the peace process.

4. Strategic Noncompliance:

This tactic is the minority regime’s favorite. It agrees upfront to take action while having no intention of taking that action, or cooperating in order to buy time to find a way of avoiding taking action. For example, Seyoum Mesfin, the most frightened member of the Tigrayan clique ruling Ethiopia today came out swinging in the wee hours of 13 April 2002. He called a Press Conference and announced to the world that the decision of the Boundary Commission was fair and that it was final and binding. He also said that “ Badme and its environs” had been awarded to Ethiopia and that the international community should urge Eritrea to accept the ruling and allow for the speedy demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border.

A few days later, when the ignominious cadre and his team read the documents and found out that Badme, the casus bellie for the Eritrea- Ethiopia border conflict had been awarded to Eritrea.  In this case, since it cannot easily refuse to accept the decision, in order to have the moral high ground, it ran to accept the decision before Eritrea, only to turn around and delay compliance. The regime has done everything to get out of its treaty obligations and has collaborated with internal and external forces to undermine the EEBC decision. That began the 11 year long attempts to amend, revisit and even reverse the EEBC’s final and binding delimitation decision began.

It employed the support of Eritrean mercenaries to undermine the EEBC’s decisions, and to confuse the matter. These self serving emasculated individuals  came up with stuff like “Transitional Justice”, “making Badme a no-man’s zone”, “making Badme a park to be enjoyed by both sides” etc. etc. Instead of standing up for the people of Eritrea and the sovereignty of Eritrea, these quislings worked with Meles Zenawi to weaken Eritrea’s legal position for a few stipends-they failed miserably.

The regime “sought powerful alliances” in its ongoing pressure on Eritrea. In order to force Eritrean into relinquishing rights to Badme, the minority also turned to its friends at the UN and at the US State Department. Meles Zenawi sought the help of Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, to create an “alternative mechanism”, because he wanted to get rid of the EEBC. Kofi Annan obliged by creating all types of obstacles and preventing the EEBC from carrying out its sole mandate of demarcating the Eritrea Ethiopia border. John Bolton, the then US Ambassador to the United Nations said that Jendayi Frazer, the incompetent former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, told him  that she wanted to  “reopen the 2002 decision” which “she had concluded was wrong” and wanted it to “award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia”. Bolton said that he “was at a loss how to explain that to the Security Council”, so he didn’t.

Frazer wanted to adjust the line and she brought General George Fulford, who she figured could serve as a “technical facilitator” to the EEBC. He was one of the people who had accompanied her on her ill-advised and illegal trip to Badme, an occupied sovereign Eritrean territory. Frazer and Fulford introduced the “satellite technology” map at an EEBC meeting in the spring of 2006. General Fulford also “rather unwisely, wrote to Eritrea’s Legal Counsel that he was seeking operational latitude to shift the boundary by about 1Km”.

After waiting for over five years to demarcate the Eritrea-Ethiopia border in accordance with the EEBC’s final and binding decisions, the Boundary Commission decided to demarcate the border using coordinates on maps, “virtual demarcation”, closed its offices and left the area. Ethiopia continues to flout international law, the UN and African Union Charters and the EEBC’s delimitation and demarcation decisions. It has refused to accept the demarcation and continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.

5. Information Manipulation.

This is another favorite ploy used by the regime in its domestic and foreign policies. It has perfected the art of withholding, putting a spin on information, and covering up or giving false information. When the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its final and binding delimitation decision on 13 April 2002, the ignominies Seyoum Mesfin, then Foreign Minister of Ethiopia told Ethiopians that Badme and its environs had been awarded to Ethiopia. It was bold lie.

When the regime could not get the EEBC to change the decision, it sought to undermine the Commission and Meles Zenawi claimed, through a letter to Kofi Annan that the Commission’s work was in “terminal crisis”.  The EEBC responded to that the letter was “misconceived and misleading”. In its 7 October 2003 letter to Kofi Annan, the Commission wrote the following:

“…there is no “crisis”, terminal or otherwise, which cannot be cured by Ethiopia’s compliance with its obligations under the Algiers Agreement, in particular its obligations to treat the Commission’s delimitation determination as “final and binding” (article 4.15) and “to cooperate with the Commission, its experts and other staff in all respects during the process of … demarcation” (article 4.14)…

Needless to say, Ethiopia continued with its belligerence and the US led international community looked the other way.

Having the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital as well as the UN’s many tentacle organizations at its disposal, successive Ethiopian regimes, and most especially the current minority regime, have emasculated these organizations and prevented them from calling a spade a spade.  The wiki leak cables are replete with the lies and deceptions of the regime and its cadres, too many to mention in one sitting. For example, the regime keeps telling the world that the “root causes” for the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict must be addressed in order for Ethiopia to comply with its treaty obligations and the Algiers Agreements. Yet, it has prevented the African Union and the United Nations from establishing the Commission in accordance with the Algiers Agreements. Article 3 of the Algiers Agreements says:

“…In order to determine the origins of the conflict, an investigation will be carried out on the incidents of 6 May 1998 and on any other incident prior to that date which could have contributed to a misunderstanding between the parties regarding their common border, including the incidents of July and August 1997…The investigation will be carried out by an independent, impartial body appointed by the Secretary General of the OAU, in consultation with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the two parties…The independent body will endeavor to submit its report to the Secretary General of the OAU in a timely fashion…The parties shall cooperate fully with the independent body…The Secretary General of the OAU will communicate a copy of the report to each of the two parties, which shall consider it in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement and the Modalities…”

The Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions on 13 April 2002 and 30 November 2007 respectively. 13 years since the signing of the Algiers Agreements and the Commission that is supposed to determine the origins of the conflict” has yet to be established. Why?

According to a 1 December 2005 Wikileak cable from Ethiopia which details a 25 November 2005 meeting between US’ Donald Yamamoto and African Union officials. The African Union seems to have made a unilateral decision to delay the formation of the Commission. The cable said:

“…Peace and Security Commissioner Djinnit said that the AU favors prioritization of Algiers Accord requirements and indicated that the AU does not believe the time is right for a study on the causes of war between the two countries, as provided for under Article 3…”

Judging from Ethiopia’s interference with the work of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union to get the latest US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions resolutions against the State of Eritrea and its people, there is no doubt that the AU was acting at the behest of the US and Ethiopia. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Algiers Agreement that allows the AU or the two parties to cherry pick parts to implement or delay. In addition, as one of the witnesses and guarantors of the Algiers Agreements, the African Union is morally and legally required to fulfill its obligations under the Agreements.

6. Discrediting opponents.

From its domestic opponents to all others, the regime in Ethiopia has used “personal attacks or irrelevant criticisms to create doubt about another person’s competence or credibility”. The frightened regime believes it can drain away the power of others by discrediting them. It seeks to find “dark secrets” and even create them with seductive traps, then expose them – it’s called ‘entrapment’. The regime has labeled opposition members, journalists and Ethiopian activists as being “terrorists” and has accused Eritrea of committing “terrorist acts”.

In its quest to dismember and weaken Somalia, the regime invaded and occupied Somalia in 2006. While it publicly accused Eritrea of not supporting the Transitional National Government (TNG) in Somalia, it undermined all the TNG leaders, used them in its agenda to sever Somalia and then dumped them. Here are some examples of Ethiopian consistent undermining of all of Somalia’s leadership:

§ “…Meles said that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister Gedi has “outlived his purpose” and is not the right person for the primary job now of ensuring an inclusive political process. The removal of Gedi would best be an outcome of the National Reconciliation Congress. Meles, Belliard said, agreed that there needs to be more Hawiye in the government, including in the security services…”-(Meles Zenawi 2007)

§ “…Tekeda said that Ethiopia’s objective for the upcoming October 27-29 IGAD Summit in Nairobi was “to soften Yusuf up…and put him in a cage.” He said that “either Yusuf will come out of the summit as a ceremonial president or he will be jettisoned.” Tekeda hoped that the summit would convince Yusuf that he cannot continue conducting business as usual with Yusuf only serving his Majerteen clan interests. Tekeda stated that there was now absolute consensus within the Ethiopian government that President Yusuf can no longer continue to be an obstacle to political progress in Somalia…Tekeda said that Yusuf was “an old man with no capacity,” and that he was a liability. The only question that remains is what can be done to limit the damage he can do. Tekeda said Yusuf could continue as President if he agreed to become a figure head, but if Yusuf does not listen, then he must leave… Tekeda revealed that in the previous weeks he had met secretly with ARS/Djibouti head Sheikh Sharif to discuss the integration of the ARS into the TFG”-( Tekeda Alemu on Abdulahi Yusuf -2008)

§ “…Tekeda suggested that the presidency was too high for ARS/Djibouti head Sheikh Sharif, but that Sharif as prime minister was possible. He added that Sharif should have some role in the government because he had some level of acceptance and credibility among Somalis. Tekeda noted that he had just gotten off the phone with Sharif, and that their discussions over the formation of a unity government were continuing. He also said that Sharif and the opposition would go to Nairobi to participate in the summit. Tekeda declined to name possible replacements for Yusuf…”- (Tekeda Alemu on Sheikh Sharif 2008)

 

§ “…Asked by Special Envoy for Somalia John Yates if Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein “Nur Adde” was capable of governing, Meles said only “no.” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Abdisalan Aden had the right clan credentials (Habr Gedr/Ayer) but no power base of his own. Meles acknowledged, however, that “you can talk to him” and “he’s very useful.” Meles agreed with A/S Frazer that ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif might be a Trojan horse for more radical Islamists…”- (Meles Zenawi on Sheikh Sharif 2008)

 

§ “…Questioned about CIC leaders, Meles observed that with its defeat, the CIC had now lost its “aura of continued victory.” Whereas the Ayr sub-clan had been the CIC’s primary backer, CIC Executive Committee Chairman Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was Abgaal and now wielded little influence…”- (Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia-2007)

 

With Ethiopian officials serving as US advisors in the region, it is no wonder then that US policy for the Horn of Africa remains bloody, callous and incoherent.

The minority regime and its handlers have spent millions in targeted vilification and defamation campaigns against the State of Eritrea, its leadership and its people-especially the tight knit Diaspora population. The distortions and lies propagated by some Eritrean quislings in its employ have only strengthened the unity and resolve of the people. Today, members fo the Eritrean Quislings League and their sponsors are found resorting to criminal activities. For example, one of the regime’s mercenaries was caught vandalizing and destroying the Eritrean Community Center in Oakland, CA. Three Eritrean Community Centers in Stockholm, Sweden were burnt to the ground in February 2013. Its mercenaries have “occupied” and “vandalized” Eritrean Embassies and several individuals are now facing criminal charges. These acts of desperation continue and unless the United States and European governments conduct serious investigations into the regime’s activities, these crimes will escalate.

7. Occupation.

The regime wrongly believes that by marking territory and maintaining a physical presence, it can force its opponents to “dialogue” and “negotiations”. By occupying Somalia and imposing its will on the leaders, it seeks to project its rule on the people of Somalia. For over a decade now it has occupied sovereign Eritrean territories and has employed various gimmicks, including the 5-Point Plan (as advised by its friends in the UK) and “agreeing in principle” to accept the Boundary Commission’s decisions, to buy time and find ways to reverse the final and binding decision. There can be no dialogue with a regime that has occupied sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, in violation of international law, the African Union and United Nation’s Charters. Ethiopia’s occupation must end.

So far the international community has not taken any punitive actions against you and that has emboldened you to act irrationally and erratically, making you more dangerous to peace in the region.  The Security Council has an obligation to enforce the Algiers Agreement and the EEBC’s final and binding decision and so far it has failed to do so. Under international law, the UN Security Council does not have the option of non-action; it cannot shirk off its responsibilities to UN member states like Eritrea forever. Sooner or later they will have to act. I say they should act now to avert another humanitarian disaster.

The international community in general, and the witnesses and guarantors in particular, do not have the option to just wash their hands off like a bunch of Pontius Pilates, they too have legal obligations to fulfill. Moreover, their inaction will undermine the integrity and efficacy of the UN System, not to mention the effect their inaction will have on the confidence of member states in its ability to resolve conflicts and ensure international peace in the future, which today is very low.

Furthermore, they cannot expect Eritreans to do nothing; remain perpetually patient and magnanimous while Eritrea’s security is at risk and Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is being violated by Ethiopia. Article 51 of the UN Charter recognizes Eritrea’s inherent right of self-defense.  Article 51 of the UN Charter clearly states the following:

“…Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security…”

Eritrea’s inherent right to self defense is justified under international law and the UN Charter:

  1. There is an armed attack/occupation. Ethiopia’s army is occupying sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme for the last 13 years since the EEBC delivered its final and binding delimitation decision.
  1. There is no practicable alternative or it is demonstrably unavailable. The authority, the UN Security Council, which has the legal powers to stop or prevent the infringement, has so far refused to take any deterrent actions against your regime.  The UNSC has instead chosen to appease the minority regime by allowing its open defiance of international law and over two-dozen Security Council resolutions on the Eritrea Ethiopia border.
  1. There is urgent necessity. There are Eritreans who have been forced to live outside their villages. The Eritrea Ethiopia border has been delimited and demarcated and today, the only issue is the Ethiopian occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, which cannot go on forever.

For the 3 reasons mentioned above and more, Eritrea has the right to liberate her sovereign territories and will not seek permission or approval from those who did not fulfill their legal obligations.

8. Shunning.

This is a tactic used by the regime to isolate Eritrea diplomatically and politically. By labeling Eritrea as the “spoiler” and refusing to allow Eritrea’s participation in international forums, by throwing tantrums at the UN and at the US State Department, the frightened regime has sought various ways to isolate Eritrea and muffle her voice. For some reason, despite its repeated calls for dialogue with Eritrea, the regime refuses to allow Eritrea’s participation at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)…go figure!

There are other ugly traits of the TPLF regime in Ethiopia that could have been mentioned, but these will suffice for today. For those who are wondering why the regime chooses to employ gimmicks and tactics, the answer is quite simple. The minority regime in Ethiopia is illegitimate and lacks the support of its own people. It is “propped up” by western governments who have decided that it fulfills their agendas in the region. The mercenary regime does not have the financial or other resources to play the appointed Viceroy in the region, so it relies completely on its western sponsors to maintain its brutal grip on the Ethiopian people- and now the Somali people too. It is a regime driven by anger, fear and frustration. Its inferiority complex adds to its inability to achieve its domestic and international goals on its own-always at the mercy of its handlers.

There are three tactics in dealing with those suffering from the “Fiefdom Syndrome”:

· Refuse to play the game: It takes two to tango, and if you (and others) won’t play they may have to give up.

· Name the game: Exposure, so everyone knows the game, is a great way of neutralizing tricksters.

· Change the game: Taking control yourself allows you to reframe and redirect the energy of the situation

Know thy enemy…

Ethiopia must withdraw and the occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories must end now!

The rule of law must reign over the law of the jungle!

 


[1] Phrase coined by Robert J. Herbold, COO of Microsoft, senior executive who has held several positions during a 26-year career at Proctor & Gamble. He is now president of the Herbold Group LLC.

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Regional Seminar on the Implementation and Promotion of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Discrimination in the context of the Right to Food in Southern Africa

Posted on 29 March 2013 by Africa Business

LILONGWE, Malawi /African Press Organization (APO)/ Around 60 experts from governments, civil society, national human rights institutions, as well as the agricultural sector will meet from 3 to 4 April 2013 in Lilongwe, Malawi, to discuss concrete measures to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food in the sub-region. Experts from Belgium, Norway, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN agencies will also attend.

 

The Regional Office for Southern Africa of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is convening the meeting in close cooperation with the Government of Malawi, the United Nations Country Team in Malawi, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, with the financial support of the Flemish Government (Belgium) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

 

The objective of the seminar is to facilitate an exchange of experiences and lessons learned related to the implementation of the right to food, and to increase awareness of the right to food and of existing implementation tools in the sub-region. The seminar is in follow-up to the recommendations made at a sub-regional expert seminar on economic, social and cultural rights held in Maputo, Mozambique, in December 2011, and takes into account the findings of the expert consultations on the right to food convened by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food in Nairobi, Kenya, in April 2012.

 

The regional seminar seeks to pool experiences and build knowledge on the implementation of the right to food and human rights-based approaches to tackling hunger and food and nutrition insecurity in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

 

In recent years, several countries in Southern Africa have been adopting constitutional provisions as well as national framework laws, strategies, policies and programmes to strengthen the protection of the right to food, and are leading the way at the global level. These institutional developments are vital and serve to clarify that “fighting hunger and malnutrition is not merely a charitable cause but rather a matter of empowering people to claim their rights and to hold Governments accountable”, as mentioned by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

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Raise the Bar, Hershey! Coalition Welcomes Hershey Timeline for Transition to Certified Cocoa

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Africa Business

Hershey Should Increase Funding of Programs to Address Child Labor and Improve Conditions for West African Cocoa Farmers

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” coalition (www.raisethebarhershey.org) welcomed last week’s announcement from the Hershey Co. (HSY) that it has set deadlines to achieve its 100% certification goals and will be working with three independent, third-party certification firms to verify its cocoa is made in a responsible manner.

We are pleased by this news, especially the fact that Hershey has revealed the third-party certifiers it will be working with and a more detailed timeline for when it plans to transition its cocoa to responsible sources,” said Elizabeth O’Connell, campaign director for Green America, “We welcome further details about the additional ‘well-established certification organizations’ Hershey states it plans to work with and how the Hershey Company will specifically prevent child exploitation from happening on the farms from which Hershey sources its cocoa.”

Hershey’s announcement came after years of pressure on the chocolate industry, and Hershey in particular, to address the problems of forced child labor on the farms from where they source their cocoa in West Africa. Since 2001, instances of forced child labor and human trafficking have been documented on cocoa farms in Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, and other West African countries. According to the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University, an estimated 1.8 million children, aged 5 to 17, work on cocoa production in Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana. In Cote D’Ivoire alone, there are an estimated 109,000 children engaged in the worst forms of child labor on cocoa farms and some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.

The “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” coalition urges Hershey to report publicly and regularly on its progress toward meeting its certification goals. Additionally, the coalition urges Hershey to invest greater financial resources in programs that specifically address child labor on the cocoa farms from where it sources. Mars, Hershey’s main competitor in the United States, has committed $300 million to sustainable cocoa initiatives by 2021, or .1% of 2012 sales. Hershey, on the other hand, has committed only $10 million by 2017, or .03% of its 2012 sales.

To read more about Hershey’s and other industry commitments to preventing child labor in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, see the coalition’s March 14, 2013 Press Release and Confectionary News’ March 20, 2013 article.

About the “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” Coalition:

GREEN AMERICA is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. www.GreenAmerica.org

GLOBAL EXCHANGE is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. www.GlobalExchange.org

INTERNATIONAL LABOR RIGHTS FORUM is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. www.LaborRights.org

OASIS USA is a non-profit organization committed to developing communities where everyone is included, making a contribution, and reaching their God-given potential. www.OasisUSA.org

SOURCE Green America, Washington, D.C.

http://www.raisethebarhershey.org
http://www.greenamerica.org

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 3)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

Football Players

By now, almost every Eritrean is aware of the repeated high-profile defections by the Eritrean national football players during matches in other African countries. In the case of Tanzania, 13 football players, who participated in the July 2011 CECAFA Kagame Cup, failed to show up for a flight back to Asmara. They later reported to the Home Affairs Ministry asking for asylum but, according to the Tanzanian National Refugees Committee, “none of the applications met the criteria for refugee status.” [98] The UNHCR then intervened calling for their protection while arrangements could be made for their transfer to a third country. Ten months later, we learn from the Houston Chronicle that four of the players had already made it to Houston, three were due to arrive one month later, four were resettled in Boston, and two in Virginia. [99] How is it possible that every single one of the 13 players was able to arrive in America so quickly? According to the US State Department, only less than one percent of refugees worldwide are ever resettle in a third country, let alone America. [100] This case may come as a surprise to many Eritrean refugees around the world who have had to languish in refugees camps for years on end awaiting resettlement. The article then goes on to explain that “after their escape in Tanzania, where [the players] outran their handlers and met at a rendezvous spot before going to the US Embassy to seek protection. They were certified as refugees by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and spent months in Romania before being approved for placement in the U.S.” The fact that they planned, in advance, to go to the US Embassy is quite telling of the current US Adminstration’s role in promoting youth migration. High profile asylums of Eritrean sports figures are designed to send a message to the Eritrean football-loving youth that loudly declares, “if you leave your country, then USA has your back.”

And make no mistake about it: the US knows the cultural significance football to Eritreans. Following the first defection of 4 football players in Kenya, US ambassador McMullen acknowledged in a 2010 diplomatic cable under the derisive subheading “SOCCER TEAM 1 – REGIME 0,” that “Eritreans are mad about soccer” and that the Kenyan defections “will be stunning news for the Eritrean population.” [101] This first round of defections, however, did not take place through the US Embassy. They were discovered to be hiding in a refugee camp under the protection of UNHCR and were granted automatic group asylum in Australia eight months later. [102] Apparently, their case takes priority over the millions of Somalians sitting in the same Kenyan refugee camps, fleeing civil war, drought, and religious persecution. Sensational headlines from the Associated Press, re-printed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated read, “Official: Players say death awaits them in Eritrea.” [103] Why does the AP take the asylum-seekers words at face value when they clearly have a vested interest in inflating their story for the purpose of resettlement? To this day, we have yet to see any evidence of deportees being executed by Eritrean authorities; only the claims of asylum-seekers.

It should also be mentioned that in the case of the Tanzanian defection, the players were transported via emergency evacuation from Dar es Salaam to a holding facility in Romania. Do all Eritrean refugees get this kind of treatment? Upon further inspection, we learn that this facility is the Evacuation Transit Center that was built in 2008 (officially, 2009) “by the Romanian government, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees in urgent need of evacuation from their first asylum countries due to life-threatening conditions….it received its first group of refugees, 40 Eritreans, last November and all have been found resettlement homes.” [104] Since then, there have reports of the transportation of large groups of Eritreans. In one case, 30 Eritreans were transported from Tunisia. [105]. This is important because it signifies a growing trend of expedited  large group evacuations of Eritreans from atypical locations. The asylum-seekers no longer have to be at a sub-Saharan refugee camp to await processing. They can be in a US Embassy, like the Tanzanian players, or perhaps in the Middle East under temporary protection status. In the words of the US State Department’s “Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2012″:

And according to the Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, we anticipate Sudanese, Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean and other African refugees to be processed in Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. We will also process individuals who were forced to leave Libya as a result of the conflict there, some of whom will be interviewed at the UNHCR Evacuation Transit Center in Romania. We project as many as 1,300 individuals will be referred to the USRAP from the Tunisia/Libya border, and as many as 500 individuals will be referred to the USRAP from the Egypt/Libya border, during calendar year 2011. [106]

How many of those 500 were Eritreans? We don’t for sure. However, we do know that after 3 years of operations, the facility has housed 600 refugees, which, according to the UNHCR, includes “Eritreans, Sudanese, Palestinians, Ethiopians, Sri Lankans, Iraqis and Nigerians.” [107] Of that list, only Iraqis rank higher for US resettlement, according to the Proposed Refugee Admission report for FY 2013. That should tell us something.

Thus, it is clear that Eritreans are deliberately being resettled in third countries with the complicity of the international media. Eritrea maintains that it is a victim of the policies of external entities while the US and various human rights groups point the finger at the lack of human rights in Eritrea. Some groups have conducted independent studies and have come to different conclusions in regards to the causes of migration out of Eritrea. According to conclusions of a 2009 study conducted by the Global Forum on Migration and Development, in cooperation with the European Commission and the Eritrean Government:

Migration is not a phenomenon that happens only in Eritrea. It is a global issue that needs global collaboration for a viable solution acceptable to all parties involved. Eritrea is a poor country and therefore this circumstance serves as a main factor for migration. To make migration a positive contributing force to development, Eritrean migration policy needs to be more flexible and up-to-date. The benefits of migration accrue in terms of transfer of money (remittances), technology and know-how. Important as they are, remittances don’t require the physical movement of the migrants to the country.

To achieve all these, there is a need for planned and dynamic handling of the benefits of migration. This has to be done without compromising the rights and economic status of citizens by promoting openness and freedom of movement but at the same time not compromising the national interest. Therefore, the policy has to aim to address the manpower needs of the country emphasizing creation of jobs (following labour intensive technology in production) and In-country Human Resource Development Schemes as well as encouraging remittance and technology transfer.  [108]

They don’t blame the Eritrean government for human trafficking, child labor, or human rights abuses. It does suggest “promoting openness and freedom of movement but at the same time not compromising the national interest.” Unfortunately, these conclusions fell on the deaf ears of the international media as they do not fit the “human rights agenda.”

The “Human Rights Agenda”

So what does all this human trafficking business mean anyway? If we consider the above and inspect some of the recent developments in regards to human rights of Eritreans, we begin to see some trends. Most notably, it seems like the international mainstream media is trying to connect human trafficking of Eritreans to “human rights abuses” by the Eritrean government–the “human rights agenda.” The press often sites the usual suspects: US State Department human rights and TIP reports, US-funded NGO’s, “Eritrean” opposition websites and members, SEMG reports, and biased “experts”/”journalists” on Eritrea. In each case, the excuse for people leaving Eritrea is always the same: human rights abuses. Not all the other possible causes mentioned above. No one ever considers the words of independent analysts or Eritrean officials. Most importantly, they ignore the words of the people living in Eritrea with the excuse often being that Eritreans are too scared to speak up. In saying so, they are unknowingly calling the Eritrean people cowards, which is an insult considering what Eritreans have gone through to achieve the liberation of their nation. In contrast, however, they seem to have an incredible fondness for the words of Eritreans that leave their nations–i.e. asylum-seekers. Asylum seekers–whose hopes of resettlement rely on stories of persecution–make up practically the entire basis of the reports and articles by HRW, AI, SEMG, Dan Connell, and many others who seek regime change in Eritrea. Is it any surprise then that the foundation of their entire “human rights abuse” argument relies on asylum-seekers? Is it any surprise then that they fight tooth and nail to “protect” them? Is it any surprise then that they are promoting youth migration, politicizing it, and then calling it regime sponsored “human trafficking?” No surprise at all.

What is a surprise, on the other hand, is the number of times that the UNHCR publishes or references the work of petty anti-Eritrean websites, organizations, and individuals who take the “human rights” stance. It should be made clear that these entities are not only “anti-regime,” as some like to pose, but rather outright anti-Eritrean since they all have (1) called for sanctions against Eritrea; (2) practically ignored or downplayed the ever-present existential threats against Eritrea; and (3) consistently repeat the same line used by the late Meles Zenawi that “we like the Eritrean people, we just want to get rid of their government.” With that said, let us review how many times each of these anti-Eritrean elements has been published or referenced by UNHCR:

Human Rights Concern, Eritrea (Elsa Chyrum): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Assenna.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Asmarino.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Gedab News: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Nharnet.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Awate.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55

Dan Connell: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Léonard Vincent: 1, 2, 3

Perhaps this will help Eritreans learn how to prioritize their enemies. The same Awate.com that spread the rumor that the Eritrean president was likely dead is being published or cited by UNCHR documents almost 55 times. [109, 110] UNHCR also cites the work of the same Léonard Vincent of Reporter Without Borders (RSF), who openly admitted in his book that he illegally smuggled an Eritrean Ministry of Information employee through the assistance of RSF personnel and the French Foreign Office. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It should be noted that for some of the documents, the UNHCR website has a disclaimer that reads, “This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.” If that’s the case then why publish it in the first place while not publishing material from non-US funded independent groups or Shabait.com, the Eritrean Ministry of Information website, in response to human rights allegations? Why are they so one-sided?

In light of the clear bias for anti-Eritrean entities, let us put things in perspective. Imagine you’re a young bright-eyed UNHCR intern, fresh out of Harvard, whose dream is to one day work for Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or some other non-profit organization that the media says helps the disparaged people of the world. At orientation, your boss assigns you to work at a refugee camp in East Sudan next month and suggests that you read up on the situation in Eritrea. Like a good intern, you log into the UNHCR website and access RefWorld, the supposed “Leader in Refugee Decision  Support.” You read through countless documents on Eritrea, meticulous in your reading and checking up on all citations. You also check out the US State Department-funded COR website for some extra background on Eritrean refugees in Kassala. After a while, you start to think, “surely it can’t be that bad,” so you check out some Eritrean websites for Eritreans’ personal views of their country. You remember all the websites listed in the citations of the UNHCR website so you check them out. After reading all the latest articles from Awate.com, Asmarino.com, Assenna.com, and their ilk, you come to the heart-crushing conclusion that Eritrea must be the most horrible place on Earth. All your dream organizations, like HRW, AI, RSF, and many others have nothing positive to say about life in Eritrea. You come to see the Eritrean government as an enemy of the Eritrean people that uses the “CIA” argument as a scapegoat for its failures–essentially what the media tells you. Although, you may have some doubts when talking to average Eritreans at the local community center, who often speak wonders of the Eritrean government and tell you about the FBI harassing them for supporting the Eritrean government, you have trouble accepting the distant notion that there is some crazy conspiracy to destroy Eritrea. Surely, you’re not crazy! You accept that it’s just another African tragedy. Hopeless. Now all you want is to be part of some great cause–like your hero Rachel Corrie, perhaps. As a result, you join in on the “human rights agenda” against the Eritrean government.

What we are seeing now is the “human rights agenda” on full display. Following the fabricated coup in January and the failed attempt to turn it into a campaign, [111] we see people like Dan Connell and Elsa Chyrum going around the world giving talks on human trafficking in Eritrea [112]. We see people like Meron Estifanos and the so-called “International Commission on Eritrean Refugees” writing letters to the UN Secretary General, urging him to launch an investigation into what is causing the human trafficking of Eritreans. [113] In each of these instances, these individuals and groups have been pointing the finger at the Eritrean government and we are now seeing increased efforts to see actions taken against Eritrea for alleged human rights abuses.

At its 21st session on September 27, 2012, the Human Rights Council considered the situation of human rights in Eritrea under the terms of the confidential complaint procedure (1503 procedure). By this method human rights groups and victims of human rights abuses file confidential complaints to the HRC. However, according to resolution 21/1 on Eritrea, the HRC ultimately decided to switch to the public procedure (1235 procedure) under which it can hold an annual public debate about the alleged gross violations of human rights in question. [114] This essentially represents an escalation of the case. If no change is noted in regards to the human rights situation in Eritrea, the HRC can have the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC ) pass a resolution condemning Eritrea. According to the Human Rights Education Association, this would serve as public condemnation that “tarnishes the reputation of the leaders in the state in question and discredits their legitimacy as political elites.” [115] Resolution 21/1 also called for a “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea” to investigate the complaints and report back to the HRC during the twenty-third session in June 2013.

On September 28 2012, Ms. Beedwantee Keetharuth, a lawyer from Mauritius who worked for Amnesty International’s African Regional office in Uganda and is touted to have “extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations across Africa,” was appointed as “UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea.” According to the HRC’s meeting minutes:

Eritrea noted the decision of the Council to refer the situation in Eritrea to the public and reminded the Council to abide by the principles of neutrality and impartiality. The Council had clearly violated the provisions prohibiting politicised action and had not justified its motion to disregard those basic principles and criteria of admissibility. Eritrea therefore rejected the decision of the Council because it was politically motivated and did not accept the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. [116]

Following her appointment, there was no mention in the UN press release or any media reports about Eritrea’s rejection of her appointment [117]. Without that needed context for the reader, they instead say that “she had requested meetings with the country’s diplomats” but unfortunately, “the meetings had yet to take place.” [118] Once again, Eritrea is made to appear uncooperative because Eritrea’s voice is silenced. It should come as no surprise if her future report says “I had trouble getting a hold of Eritrean officials.”

Figure 3. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Beedwantee Keetharuth (Sudan Tribune)

Upon further investigation we learn that Elsa Chyrum, the Director of Human Rights Concern, Eritrea, was key in getting Ms. Keetharuth appointed. According to the “Eritrean” opposition website Asmarino.com:

Elizabeth (Elsa) Chyrum has been instrumental in bringing about the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to Eritrea; four years’ work has culminated in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointing Ms. Beedwantee Keetharuth as Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Mrs. Chyrum has been advocating and lobbying at the HRC for recognition of the severe human rights crisis in Eritrea since September 2008. She is passionate about justice for Eritrea, and has doggedly campaigned for the appalling human rights record of Eritrea to come to the fore of the international agenda. She has done this, and more, largely by funding herself and occasional contributions for travel and other expenses from well-wishers and sisterly organizations. [119]

Acting in concert with other self-proclaimed African human rights activists, Ms. Elsa sent multiple letters curiously addressed to “African Heads of State” [120, 121] urging those states with the “highest standards of human rights” to apply for the 5 vacancies in the African Group of the HRC. Exactly which benevolent African leaders did she send them to? We may never know for sure but what we do know is that Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Gabon, and Sierra Leone were all elected to the African Group last November. Add in Uganda (in office until December 2013) and we have a dangerous anti-Eritrean triumvirate of IGAD members that will decide on Ms. Keetharuth’s report in June 2013. [122] Ethiopia was voted in despite a letter of opposition from 18 AU nations. [123]

In addition, we can’t ignore the glaring fact that the US was also elected into the HRC last year. [124] During the Bush Administration’s term in office, the US opted to sit out in protest of the HRC’s excessive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [125] In 2009, however, Obama decided to change directions and the nation was voted in. Now that the US has been re-elected and is in the company of its client states in IGAD, the US-driven, anti-Eritrean campaign is expected to continue with an East African face. Last year, Nigeria, Djibouti and Somalia led [126] the HRC to create a Special Rapporteur on Eritrea with US co-sponsorship [127] and we can pretty much expect the same moving forward. It’s also critical to note that the Kampala-based East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) was granted “special consultative status” with the ECOSOC earlier that year. [128] What does that mean exactly? The EHAHRDP, an umbrella human rights organization with a nightmarish acronym, has the power to make recommendations to the HRC and push for resolutions that promote its agenda. Elsa Chyrum’s Human Rights Concern Eritrea is part of that network and as the EHAHRDP website states, ECOSOC status will allow its “network members to deepen their engagement at the UN Level.” [129] If history is any indication, her influence will serve as a destructive force against the Eritrean people. Back in 2011, an article on the HCRE website declared that “as we celebrate International Human Rights Day, we welcome the Security Council Sanctions on Eritrea as a means of bringing to light some of the human rights abuses being perpetrated every day on Eritreans.” [130] Anyone who calls for sanctions on a nation is an enemy of that nation. There has never been an example in history where UN sanctions have benefitted the people of a nation. How, then, can one be Eritrean or a friend of Eritrea and wish for sanctions on Eritrea?

The Global Human Rights Regime

Intervention in the name of human rights is the emerging tool of imperialism and we have seen a dramatic increase in targeted actions towards sovereign nations–particularly African nations–by the Global Human Rights Regime (GHRR). Prior to 1990, there were only two UN sanctions:  Rhodesia in 1966 and South Africa in 1977. Both failed to accomplish their stated goals. The 1990′s saw an explosion of UN sanctions, predominantly used against African nations. Despite the use of “panels of experts” and “monitoring groups” none of them worked. After a series of studies, the UN then decided to transition into using “targeted” sanctions in the 2000′s. Again, those didn’t work either. Eritrea, sanctioned in 2009, is a testament to this reality. In fact, the sanctions only strengthened the Eritrean people’s support of their government, as was evidenced by the international Hizbawi Mekhete campaigns (“popular resistance”), in which citizens around the world raised more money in support of their government, [131] and the massive, worldwide anti-UN demonstrations held on February 22, 2010. [132] In the spirit of resistance, Eritreans also initiated the E-SMART campaign (“Eritrean Sanctions Must be Annulled and Repealed Today”), which led to the creation of a website that is now the authoritative internet resource for understanding the facts and myths regarding the UN sanctions on Eritrea.

The Human Rights Council is also a new creation that came into existence in 2006 in order to promote the agenda of the GHRR. The HRC adopted special complaint procedures and special rapporteurs were given mandates to investigate alleged abuses. The US initially tried to appear as though it didn’t dominate the institution by taking a back seat and supporting it monetarily during its early years. China, Cuba, and other nations quickly took advantage by employing “bloc voting” to protect themselves from actions against their countries. Thus, the US position changed under Obama in 2009 as the country was elected into the HRC and quickly used its influence in the institution to invoke Responsibility-to-Protect (R2P) against Libya in 2011. The actions of the HRC were coordinated with those of the UNSC. Damaging human rights reports by Human Rights Watch, which is a member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, were used to further justify intervention in Libya. The International Criminal Court, which was established in 2002 and has issued 21 arrest warrants (all Africans!), issued an arrest warrant for Muammer al-Gaddafi. In a destructive symphony of the UNSC, HRC, ICC, HRW, and other international institutions, an African nation was brought to its knees. The well oiled GHRR acted in full force and wiped the Libyan Jamahiriya off the planet in almost the blink of an eye. The odd thing, is that there seems to be an overwhelming propensity for the GHRR to take actions against African nations relative to others nations of the world. As an African nation, Eritrea is now becoming the increasing subject of their focus.

US troops are now slated to enter 35 African countries this year. [133] As Pepe Escobar wrote in a 2011 article for Al Jazeera, “Africom has some sort of military “partnership”–bilateral agreements–with most of Africa’s 53 countries” but “the exceptions: Ivory Coast, Sudan, Eritrea and Libya. Ivory Coast is now in the bag. So is South Sudan. Libya may be next. The only ones left to be incorporated to Africom will be Eritrea and Zimbabwe.” Thus, Eritreans must be ready for any eventuality as the external forces that seek regime change in Eritrea–for simply not following their rules or refusing to kneel down–are left with no choice but to pull the human rights card. The “terrorism” card didn’t work. The fabricated “coup” card didn’t work. They are now desperate for something–anything–as was seen by the arson of multiple Swedish community centers [134]. Their desperation for an excuse makes them dangerous. “Human trafficking” just might be their excuse. Will Eritreans allow the “human rights” card to destroy Eritrea? That answer lies solely in the hands of Eritreans.

Part 1: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea/

Part 2: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-2/

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87. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

88. http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/26/police-keeping-open-mind-in-cabbagetown-murder

89. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

90. http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2012/10/steve_duin_the_endless_hours_o.html

91. “Swedish Resident Charged with Terrorism in US Court.” Radio Sweden. March 10, 2010. Re-published link

92. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/13/justice/new-york-al-shabaab

93. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/ethiopias-anti-apartheid-movement/

94. http://www.dni.gov/index.php/about/organization/national-intelligence-council-global-trends

95. http://www.unhcr.org/4ce531e09.pdf

96. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/fiscal-year-2012-refugee-arrivals

97. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18939

98. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

99. “East African soccer team players defect, settle in Houston.” Susan Carroll. Houston Chronicle. May 23, 2012. link

100. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/c49034.htm

101. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/239914

102. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

103. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=soccer&id=4747830

104. http://www.unhcr.org/49ba623f2.html

105. http://www.unhcr.org/4daef2e39.html

106. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

107. http://www.unhcr.org/print/4daef2e39.html

108. “Eritrea and European Community: Country Strategy Paper And National Indicative Programme For the period 2009-2013.” Global Forum on Migration and Development. Pg. 59. 2009. link

109. “Eritrean president appears to quash death rumour.” Agence France Presse. April 28, 2012. link

110. http://awate.com/the-unusual-absence-of-isaias-afwerki/

111. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

112. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1664-ms-elizabeth-chyrum-and-professor-dan-connel-in-boston

113. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1663-statement-from-icer-the-president-of-eritreas-letter-on-human-trafficking-to-the-secretary-general-of-the-un33

114. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.RES.21.1.doc

115. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=437

116. http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12608&LangID=E

117. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43831&Cr=Eritrea&Cr1#.UT6MlVeNASg

118. ibid.

119. http://asmarino.com/editorial/1609-elizabeth-elsa-chyrum-a-woman-of-the-year-2012b

120. Letter dated February 2008. “Re: Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council” link

121. Letter dated March 31, 2010. “Re: May 2010 UN Human Rights Council elections” link

122. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

123. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/13/au-don-t-endorse-sudan-ethiopia-rights-council

124. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

125. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/31/AR2009033104115.html

126. www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.L.15_en.doc

127. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/07/201207128920.html#ixzz2NMWKQXXz

128. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ecosoc6493.doc.htm

129. http://www.defenddefenders.org/2012/12/end-of-year-message-from-ehahrdps-executive-director/

130. http://hrc-eritrea.org/?p=467

131. http://youtu.be/mHrwa1rU2Nk

132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hozKaSQy1bs

133. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/ap-army-africa-brigade-train-anti-terror-teams-122412/

134. http://www.thelocal.se/46402/20130226/#.USyo2mft8wx

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 2)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

History of Migration in Eritrea

When Eritrea gained independence in the 1991, there were approximately 500,000 Eritrean refugees living in the Sudan. [34] At that time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed the Eritrean refugee situation in East Sudan as a “protracted refugee situation.” Spanning back to the 1960′s, it was the world’s second longest standing refugee program after Palestine’s. [35] One year after independence, about 70,000 refugees returned home. In subsequent years, repatriation dropped dramatically. By 1995, there were still 282,000 refugees living in the Sudan, despite peace in Eritrea and despite the nation entering the so-called “African Renaissance.” [36] In a surprisingly honest 1996 Inter Press Service article, Arnulv Torbjornsen, UNHCR-Sudan chief at the time, admitted that “we (UNCHR) created a monster in Sudan”and that “we still support 2,000 jobs in the refugee business there, and there are vested interests in keeping the Eritrean refugees. If they repatriate, their refugee empire will collapse. We have to take a lot of responsibility for creating the situation in Sudan.” [37] He then goes on to explain that 80-90% of the refugees want to repatriate in Eritrea. He also said that “UNHCR conducted a survey in the camps in August 1995, and all said they wish to go home. But perhaps only about 50 percent of those spontaneously settled want to return – they have shops, houses, children in school, etc.” Therefore, complete repatriation was impossible, despite peace and development in Eritrea, due to the ineffectiveness of UNHCR and the adoption by refugees of a new cultural and economic life in the diaspora.

In 1998, Eritrea was plunged into a two-year war with Ethiopia, displacing hundreds of thousands once again. By war’s end, there were 50,000 returns and with hostilities over, UNHCR invoked the “cessation clause” (under Article 1. C. (5) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees [38]), which would terminate Eritrean refugee status as of 2002 unless individual refugees could demonstrate a continuing need for international protection. Thus, Eritreans in the Sudan would no longer be considered refugees but rather undocumented “migrants” and incoming refugees would no longer be accepted “prima facie” (i.e. automatically without processing) as they had been for decades. To gain UNHCR recognition and resettle in a wealthier nation, many Eritreans began to seek asylum–whether real or not–on the grounds that they would be persecuted if they returned to Eritrea. Thus, at this point incoming Eritreans transitioned into “asylum-seekers” as opposed to refugees. As one UN report explains “the number of Eritrean asylum seekers entering Sudan has grown quite dramatically, from around 1,000 in 2003 to almost 33,000 in 2008, with a somewhat smaller figure (between 22,000 and 25,000) in 2009 and 2010.” [39] This rise in asylum-seekers stems from the sudden cessation of prima facie recognition, which had been in place for decades and created a continuous pipeline for many Eritreans to resettle in much wealthier nations around the world. Instead of considering this reality, the UNHCR put together a 2004 position paper, taking a reductionist outlook and concluded that there was a rise in Eritrean asylum claims and decreased repatriation because “the human rights situation in Eritrea has seriously deteriorated in the past two years…with regard to the treatment of opposition political groups and movements, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, arbitrary detention…and the treatment of draft evaders.” [40] The paper relied almost entirely on highly biased and politically motivated US State Department annual human rights reports on Eritrea. It also speckled in supposedly “independent investigations” by Amnesty International, which:

1. Did not collect its data from within Eritrea; [41]

2. Relied purely on the questionable personal accounts of nameless asylum-seekers that seek resettlement; and [42]

3. Has historically been used to promote imperial humanitarian intervention in non-western nations. [43]

Notably, the UNHCR paper did not seek or consider the accounts of Eritrean officials or, as some may prefer, the work of independent observers. The paper, which strongly argued that Eritrean asylum-seekers should not be returned to Eritrea, signified a new post-2004 policy direction for UNHCR that would only serve to perpetuate migration out of Eritrea. The “cessation clause” was revoked, meaning undocumented migrants would no longer be carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis but rather en masse. Eritrea is still dealing with the consequences of this decision.

For UNHCR to somehow expect 100% of Eritreans to gleefully return to post-war poverty in the face of a decades long culture of resettling in other countries is quite ludicrous. Many still hadn’t returned in 1996 while the honeymoon of independence was still there. Significantly, the UNHCR position paper–and their many other publications to follow–failed to make the slightest mention of the other etiologies of increased asylum and dwindling repatriation:

1. Natural economic migratory patterns. According to the Harris-Todaro theory of migration, migrants make a rational decision to increase their welfare or utility by moving to another place where they can expect to earn a higher income. [44] This is evident all throughout Africa and is a significant driving factor in “brain drain.” Why is Eritrea, a remarkably poor nation, exempt from this consideration?

2. “No peace no war” situation. Despite the cessation of hostilities in 2000, the threat of a return to war in Eritrea is real and unrelenting. The Ethiopian government not only refused a “final and binding” ruling that would normalize relations but it also encroached on the Temporary Security Zone (buffer), which is now sovereign Eritrean territory [45]. In fact, Ethiopia initiated an attack on Eritrea last spring [46].  The year before that, Ethiopia openly called for the overthrow of the Eritrean government, violating resolution 3314 (XIX)(a) of the UNGA. [47] Thus, the threat is very real today. It was even more real back then. Why was this not considered?

3. Internally displaced people (IDPs). Returning refugees had to compete for resettlement with the 210,000 IDPs that were already present in 2000. This cannot be ignored, considering that there were still 45,000 IDPs in 2005, who would not be fully resettled until mid-2008. [48] Many of them were among the 80,000 forcefully expelled from Ethiopia, after Meles Zenawi infamously stated that his government could “expel anyone even if we don’t like the color of their eyes.” [49]

4. Severed Eritrea-Sudan relations. On account of the ruling National Islamic Front’s support of terrorist groups like the Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement that were radicalizing Eritrean refugees in East Sudan during the 1990′s, official diplomatic relations between the nations were terminated in 1995. [50] This made tripartite coordination between UNHCR, Eritrea, and the Sudan difficult. Diplomatic relations were only resumed after 2006.

5. Protracted refugee situation. As alluded to above, the presence of a decades-long UNHCR administered refugee program in East Sudan has created an economy and culture that inhibits its termination. In fact, various refugee camps economies were so successful that they became self-reliant and transformed themselves into villages. [51] In addition, various camps were seen as assets to the Sudanese Government, as large local mechanized farms became dependent on the cheap labor of Eritrean refugees. [52]

6. Reduced UNHCR donor funding. With the war over, donors expected Eritreans to return home and were reluctant to pledge more funds for East Sudan. [53]

7. Recurrent droughts. During periods of drought some Eritrean families would relocate to the Sudan.

8. UNHCR-Sudan’s ineffectiveness. UNHCR ignored the self-criticism of Torbjornsen. It was only in later publications–when the damage was already done–that the organization came to grips with it’s general ineffectiveness:

The internal factors which have visibly affected the operation in eastern Sudan include UNHCR’s recurrent financial crisis; lack of consistent long-term vision compounded by a lack of institutional memory; changes of senior management without effective accountability, bringing about frequent changes of direction … Disregarding the history of the operation has invariably led to repeated reinventions and ultimately the waste of opportunities and resources.  [54]

Following the UNHCR’s change in policy, it was discovered that the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), which was blanked in Eritrea from 2000 to 2008, had also been involved in the trafficking of Eritreans yet UNCHR reports fail to mention or downplay this key fact. Instead they point the fingers at the Eritrean government, the Rashaidas, or whatever boogeyman fits their agenda.  Let us recall that in a January 18, 2007  wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “UNMEE: Confronting Sexual Abuse and Exploitation,” the US Chargé d’Affaires in Eritrea,  Jennifer McIntyre, wrote that “since the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia in 2001, there have been few reported incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse and trafficking in persons within Eritrea.” However, she then goes to make the following admission:

What has been an on-going problem is human smuggling, with one highly visible case in fall 2006 of a UN Volunteer who attempted to smuggle several Eritreans to Ethiopia in an UNMEE vehicle. (Refs B&C) Other smuggling cases have predominantly involved local staff crossing the border in UNMEE vehicles. In one case, upon arrival in Ethiopia the local staff called UNMEE headquarters in Asmara to inform UNMEE staff where in Ethiopia they had abandoned the vehicle. [55]

This diplomatic cable validates what Eritrean government officials had been saying for years, despite downplaying or outright denials by UNMEE. In addition to illegally spying on the Eritrean Defense Forces, peacekeepers were accused of trafficking Eritreans, having sex with Eritrean children, and making pornographic films of Eritrean women, contrary to traditional culture. [56, 57] It was only in 2007 that UNHCR finally reported–albeit via passing mention–that “according to the refugees, some members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) were involved in human trafficking.” [58] And for what reason were they doing this, exactly? In a meeting with a group of Eritreans, a candid Italian UN officer admitted that “peacekeeping is a lucrative business and that is why I am here.” [59] In 2008, Eritrea had seen enough and the “peacekeepers” were eventually kicked out. However, the damage had already been done. A pipeline outside of the country had been created through the work of foreign smugglers. Often times this smuggling leads to exploitation, which then deems it as “human trafficking.” [60] To this day Eritrea is still dealing with this issue.

Another important point illustrated by McIntyre leaked cable is that Eritreans were being smuggled into Ethiopia. Historically, Eritreans have migrated to the Sudan for refuge and hope of resettlement but migration to Ethiopia became somewhat of a new phenomenon that only took place after the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. Why is this the case? According to the US government-funded Cultural Orientation Resource Center (COR), which is responsible for “orienting” refugees, the “Eritrean refugees first crossed into Ethiopia in May 2000 after the 1998-2000 border conflict” and “many have fled conscription and come to Shimelba, a refugee camp just 25 kilometers (air distance) from the Eritrean/Ethiopian border.” [61] They claim the camp is made of 60% Tigrinyas and that “roughly speaking, about half the cases in the P2 group [those eligible for group US resettlement] were born in present day Ethiopia, were deported by the Ethiopian Government between 1996-2000, and then later fled back to Ethiopia.” In other words, half of those eligible for US resettlement on the basis that they are Eritrean are actually Ethiopian. The document then states that the second largest group is that of the Kunamas. COR then goes on to explain that “the camp is run by the Ethiopian government with UNHCR oversight. There is a ‘central committee’ that is elected by the camp population, and the committee represents the refugees on various issues, liaising with NGOs and the Ethiopian government.” As we will see, this has led to a new sort of politicized resettlement program of supposedly Eritrean refugees.

In 2007, UNHCR announced that “700 ethnic Kunama refugees from Eritrea” were resettled in America from the Shimelba Refugee Camp. [62] Notice that it doesn’t simply say “Eritreans” but rather takes a divisive turn by singling out one ethnic group from Eritrea. This is uncharacteristic of the highly nationalistic Eritreans (“kulu dihiri hager” or “everything after nation”). So what’s going on here? Well, we learn from COR that “for some Kunama, being in Shimelba is akin to ‘returning home,’ excepting the irony that they now are refugees in their own homeland.” What COR is highlighting is that fact that Kunamas are located on both sides of the border. During the Eritrea-Ethiopia war, many Ethiopian Kunamas were displaced and found refuge at the Shimbela refugee camp. Still, why is it that only Kunamas, whether Ethiopian or Eritrean, were being resettled in the US?

We also learn from the Chargé d’Affaires in Ethiopia, Deborah Malac, in an October 6, 2008 wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “The View From Inside Ethiopia’s Eritrean Refugee Camps,”  that politicized resettlement was being used in the Shimelba refugee camp to organize an Eritrean opposition:

UNHCR officials declared that they were unaware of any Eritrean opposition activity within Shimelba, though one Protection Officer noted that some Tigrinya refugees had requested urban relocation due to opposition harassment in the camps. ARRA [Ethiopian Administration for Refugee/Returnee Affairs] officials stated that opposition activity within the camps was not permitted, but a handful of Shimelba Kunama refugees insisted that, in fact, the opposition “controlled” activity within camp and moved in and out freely. They also alleged complicity between ARRA and the Tigrinya and Kunama opposition. They said that the Kunama opposition, DMLEK [Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunama], ensured that all elected Kunama officials to the refugee council were either DMLEK members or sympathetic to the opposition. [63]

It doesn’t end there:

According to the refugees, DMLEK used intimidation tactics to force compliance from uncooperative refugees by threatening to use DMLEK’s “relationship” with both ARRA and UNHCR to ensure that the offending individual “would never leave the camp.” One refugee, after refusing to join DMLEK, claimed he was arrested by the Ethiopian police on a trumped up charge and held for several weeks. Another refugee, who was a veteran of both the Eritrean liberation struggle and the 1998-2000 border war, said that when he arrived in Shimelba, ARRA offered to send him to Addis Ababa, and provide him with a vehicle, if he agreed to work in the opposition’s radio station. When he refused he was told he would never be allowed to leave, and that he would never be resettled. Another refugee said that the largely Tigrinya “Sedeg’e” opposition group tried to force him to join by telling him that if he did not, he would never leave the camp. (Note: Sedeg’e is also known as the Eritrean Revolutionary Democratic Front (ERDF), and is one of the three groups that joined together to form the Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF). The DMLEK and the ENSF are both members of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA). End note.)

The refugees said that armed persons could often be seen in the camp. They said sometimes the armed persons were local Tigrayan (i.e. Ethiopian) militia, but other times the armed men were opposition. The refugees said that some DMLEK members had family living in the camp and would come and go regularly. (Note: PolOff saw several armed Tigrayan militia walking through the camp at various times.)

(C/NF) PolOff could not find any Tigrinya refugees who would speak as openly as the Kunama, but the Kunama refugees said that the Tigrinya were dominated by Tigrinya opposition groups just as the Kunama were dominated by DMLEK. The Kunama refugees asserted that some Tigrinya refugees regularly left the camp to receive military training for short periods of time, and then would return. At one point during a conversation between PolOff and contacts in the camp, the contacts visibly stiffened, and warned PolOff that they were under observation by what they termed as a “politically active” Tigrinya refugee.

Is this a refugee camp or rebel training camp? It’s sort of hard to tell. This seems very reminscent of the Syrian Free Army organizing in Turkey near the border before they started operating in Syria. Anyway, the cable continues:

(C/NF) The Kunama refugees also said that DMLEK was opposed to resettlement of the Kunama refugees, and therefore, pressuring people not to resettle. The refugees stated that DMLEK wanted the people to stay to be used as a resource, and wanted the young men to join their organization to fight Eritrea. They said that DMLEK was spreading misinformation about life in the United States including showing the movie “Roots,” alleging that the Kunama would be treated like slaves in America. One refugee noted that in the last year, positive reports from Kunama who had already resettled were beginning to counter DMLEK’s negative message.

…The presence of Eritrean opposition activity in the camps was not surprising. The defensive tone in EmbOffs discussions with UNHCR, ARRA, and international NGO officials suggests that they had a vested interest in denying any knowledge of it, otherwise they might be required to address opposition harassment of refugees. The visit was yet another reminder that a priority of ARRA’s refugee program was to address Ethiopia’s national security concerns with Eritrea. Post cannot confirm complicity between ARRA and the opposition groups, but we do note that ARRA, as an organization, falls under the purview of the Ethiopian National Intelligence Security Service. End Comment.

Thus, it comes as no surprise when websites like Asmarino.com–that brand themselves as “Eritrean opposition”–write articles with headlines like “Peaceful demonstration in Eritrean refugee camp Ethiopia (Shimelba) 06/12/2009.” [64] Anyway, from reading past US State Department “Proposed Refugee Admissions” reports for successive fiscal years, we learn about the US’s role in bringing the Kunamas to America. The Kunama case was first mentioned in the FY 2003 report (published in 2002), when they explain that “among groups under consideration for possible P-2 designation are…Kuname Eritreans in Walanibhy Camp in Ethiopia.” [65] Explaining why they are receiving P-2 designation, the report states that “these 4,000 Eritreans have no local integration prospects and are viewed with suspicion by Eritrea due to their decision to seek refuge in Ethiopia during the war. We will actively pursue an appropriate P-2 designation for this group during FY 2003.” They were still under consideration in FY 2003 and 2004. [66] In the FY 2005 (published in 2004) we learn something new. The report says “we continue to monitor the situation of the group of Eritrean Kunama in Ethiopia and have urged UNHCR to consider a group resettlement referral of those who do not choose to voluntarily repatriate to Eritrea by the end of 2004.” [67] Thus, we learn that it was the US, and not the UNHCR, that made the request for resettlement. It is usually the other way around: UNHCR makes the referral and the resettling nations choose whether or whether not to resettle them. Why they specifically requested to resettle Kunamas is a mystery. They do the same thing for religious minorities in Iran and Bantus in Somalia. If not for genuine concerns for persecution, one can only suspect an agenda to forge a sub-national identity and foment division. In any case, in the FY 2007 report they finally said that they were processing up to 2,500 Eritrean Kunama in Ethiopia, with the vast majority slated to come to the USA in FY 2007. [68] The rest is history.

Thus, as the above shows, external entities have been using the refugee situations in the Sudan and Ethiopia to drive a politicized migration out of Eritrea.  We have shown how US State Department reports were used by UNHCR to grant Eritreans prima facie status following 2004 to expedite resettlement processing and how they were granted P2 status (group resettlement in US reserved for rare minorities) to resettle them in large groups.

Moving on to more recent times, the US State Department’s “Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2012″ states the following [69]:

For the first time in 20 years, staff representing the Departments of State and Homeland Security began processing Eritrean refugees inside Sudan residing in a remote camp along the eastern border. This initiative is designed to bring hope to individuals who can neither return to Eritrea nor locally integrate in Sudan.

…Eritreans continue to seek asylum in neighboring countries due to political tensions and increasing political repression; many are attempting dangerous onward migration to Europe and the Middle East in search of better economic opportunities.

Thus, they are focusing more on resettling Eritreans living in East Sudan on the basis of political repression. To call them “army defectors” or “work migrants” in search of a better life would mean that they would have to be returned to Eritrea, as practically every nation in Africa–dealing with the same internal problem–has decided to do despite threats from UNHCR (Libya, [70] Egypt, [71] the Sudan[72], Angola [73], Tanzania [74], etc.; see below).

Alas, we arrive at the latest Proposed Refugee Admissions publication. The FY 2013 report states the following:

Both Eritrea and Sudan are currently designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Both Eritrea and Sudan are currently designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The USRAP continues to be available through Priority 1 referrals to Sudanese, Eritrean, and other refugees who are victims of religious intolerance. Refugees from Eritrea and Sudan with refugee or asylee family members in the United States also may have access to the USRAP through Priority 3, subject to its resumption. Certain Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia may have access to the USRAP through Priority 2.

Three countries of origin (Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea) presently account for the vast majority of U.S. admissions from the region. In East Africa, we continue to process P-1 Somalis in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. We are coming closer to completing P-2 processing of Eritreans in Shimelba camp in Ethiopia, but will continue to process P-1 UNHCR referrals after the P-2 group is completed. We were able to conduct the first DHS circuit ride to Sudan in over twenty years to process the first group of a protracted caseload of Eritrean refugees there. [75]

Note that Eritreans and Sudanese are the only groups explicitly named that are granted P1 status ANYWHERE on the grounds that they are undergoing religious persecution. Somalis are restricted to certain refugee camps. What African wouldn’t take advantage of this fact? Is it any surprise that many of them are claiming Eritrean identity (see below). Also, if lack of religious freedom was truly worth P1-status everywhere in the world, then Saudi Arabians would be coming droves. However, we know that’s not the case. In regards to Africa specifically, the report makes the following proposal:

From East and Southern Africa, we expect 9,000 admissions, primarily Somalis in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and South Africa; Eritreans in Ethiopia and in Sudan; and additional small numbers of P-1 referrals of various nationalities in the countries above, as well as in Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

…Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, we anticipate up to 1,500 Sudanese, Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and other sub-Saharan African refugees to be processed in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Russia.

A total of 2,032 Eritreans are slated to come to America this year, making them the 6th highest ranking resettlement group. This is amazing when one considers that Eritrea ranks 112th in population size and only contributes 0.079% of the world’s population. Much like the Palestinians and Israeli-Jews, the Eritrean population has a very high proportion of its people living in the diaspora with anecdotal numbers placing the diaspora population at ~1.5 – 2 million versus a domestic population of 6 million. Like the Israelis, Eritreans maintain dual citizenship and actively participate in the Eritrean domestic economy. From the FY 2013 report, we also learn of another concerning piece of information: most of the Eritrean refugees targeted for resettlement are of working age and male. In a section tabulating the age data of the top 20 most resettled groups, Eritrean refugees have the highest percentage of “working age” resettlement in America (84%), suggesting preferential recruitment of youth that would have otherwise been developing their homeland. All the other refugee groups don’t even come close.  This is in line with McMullen’s aforementioned comments on focusing on the youth. Clearly, the United States is set on driving young Eritreans to resettle outside of Eritrea. Finally, it should also be noted that Eritrean refugees are the most predominantly male resettlement group (73.8.7%), beating the next group by almost 13% (the Sudan had 60.8%). In the past, this has made depression a significant issue as males have been unable to find Eritrean mates in the new land [76].

Resettlement in Third Countries

As a result of the actions by the US and its client states to preferentially resettle Eritreans outside of Eritrea, migrants from throughout East Africa have picked-up on this trend and are using it to their advantage. It is well-documented that migrants originating from countries other than Eritrea regularly claim Eritrean identity to increase their chances of acquiring visas and gaining refugee status. Nowhere is this more obvious than in than in the case Israel.

In a March 2008 interview with Haaretz–long before Eritrea was in the human trafficking limelight–the Eritrean Ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste Debbas, said that he sent a letter of protest to the Israeli Foreign ministry explaining that the refugees (referred to as “infiltrators”) were “not political refugees, but rather work migrants or army deserters.” The Haaretz article goes on:

The Eritrean ambassador, Tesfamariam Tekeste, noted…that his letter of protest included several issues of concern to his government. First, he said, at least half of the infiltrators represent themselves as Eritrean while in fact they are from other African states, such as Sudan or Ethiopia. “They know the Eritreans automatically receive a six-month visa, so they pretend to be Eritrean,” he said.

The letter also mentioned the fear that hostile elements helping to smuggle Africans into Israel could exploit them for carrying out terror attacks. “If that happens, the accusing finger will point to Eritrea,” Tekeste said.

“Israel is turning itself into a migration destination for Eritrean citizens fleeing from army service or looking for work,” Tekeste said. “The fact that you issue six-month visas encourages people to come here.” [76]

Unfortunately, comments from Eritrean officials–as opposed to personal accounts in Human Rights Watch reports–often fall on deaf ears. Few believed the ambassador. However, in May of 2011 we learned that he was right all along. According to Haaretz, an “asylum seeker, who can only be identified as Ibrahim, came to Israel from Eritrea in November 2009. He was arrested a month later and held at the Givon prison in Ramle for a year and a half. The prolonged detention resulted from the Population and Immigration Authority insisting that he came, in fact, from Ethiopia.” He was then asked to provide an Eritrean birth certificate or prove his identity. Being unable to do so he was questioned by the Population and Immigration Authority. Ibrahim then “attempted to escape during the interview, and eventually admitted he was Ethiopian, rather than Eritrean, and was therefore immediately returned to custody.”  [77]

It doesn’t end there, however. In October of 2011 we learned from another Haaretz piece that false claims of Eritrean citizenship were so common by Ethiopian “infiltrators” that the Interior Ministry began to seek “documents issued by the Ethiopian consulate…to attest to the fact that asylum seekers in Israel who claim to be Eritreans [were] entitled to Ethiopian citizenship and [were] therefore not eligible for asylum.” Haaretz also “obtained information which shows that the Ethiopian consulate’s documents are routinely issued in almost every case in which the documentation is sought by the Israeli Interior Ministry.” In addition, the newspaper also “obtained minutes of the meeting from a committee that advises Interior Minister Eli Yishai on refugee matters showing that the Ethiopian consulate almost always issues the transit documents for asylum seekers at the Interior Ministry’s request, relying on Israeli authorities’ representation that the person in question is Ethiopian.” [78]

By 2012, 52% of Jewish Israelis (compared to 19% of Arab Israelis) viewed the so-called African infiltrators as a “cancer.” [79] And with more reports of asylum fraud, news of the migrants quickly caught the media’s attention, spurring further investigation by Israeli journalists. One reporter for Ynet decided to go undercover in a predominantly Eritrean and Sudanese neighborhood to shed light on the lives of the refugees. In his article he reports:

My cover story has not been finalized yet, but luckily I run into Jeremiah, who’s been in Israel for three years now. “What do I tell those who ask how I got into Israel?” I ask him. “Lie,” he says. “Don’t tell the whole story. The Israelis, and mostly the non-profit groups working with the infiltrators here, like to be lied to.”

“Say you were a soldier, and that if you return to Eritrea you’ll get a death sentence. Keep in mind that you must be consistent with your story. The bottom line is that everyone uses the story I’m telling you here, and this way they fool everybody,” he says. “Almost none of them arrived on foot from Egypt to Israel. None of us crossed any deserts…it’s all nonsense.” [80]

If Jeremiah is telling the truth, then refugees are regularly exploiting Eritrean identity. With merely the hope of raising their quality of life, who can blame them? It’s simply way to easy given the fact that, according to UN statistics, 90% of Eritrean refugees are eligible for refugee status. [81]

Over time, it became increasingly clear to Israeli officials that practically all the “infiltrators” were not refugees but rather “migrants.” As the Minister for Education, Mr. Gidon Sa’ar, announced, “we need to stop the flooding of this country with immigrants from Eritrea. They are not refugees, but rather labor immigrants.” [82] The former head of the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, Mí. Yaakov Ganot also acknowledged that “in our examinations, I would say that 99.9 percent of them are here for work. They’re not asylum seekers: they are not at any risk.” [83]

The abuse of the asylum system is not only limited to Israel. We see the same thing happening in the United Kingdom. In a 2004, UK comptroller a House of Common commissioned report entitled “Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions.” The report went on to state that, “disputed nationality is a key issue in Ethiopian applications. The Directorate generally sought to remove failed applicants to Eritrea irrespective of whether the applicant had ever been there, and adjudicators often disagreed with this approach. The Directorate has taken steps to improve its country information and refusal letters.” [84] Then on June 16, 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that former Miss Ethiopia beauty pageant winner, Jerusalem Mehari, was caught abusing the asylum system by taking on an Eritrean identity. She first “renounced her Ethiopian citizenship in 2007, a few days before her UK student visa expired, and claimed Eritrean nationality.” Her claim was that she “was a Jehovah’s Witness and there was a risk of her suffering persecution in Eritrea.” Sarabjit Singh of United Kingdom’s Home Office said that “the only reason for seeking and maintaining Eritrean nationality is to claim the right to remain in the UK…What the claimant is trying to do is nothing short of an abuse of the asylum system.”

In Toronto last year, a refugee by the name of Nighisti Semret was stabbed to death on her way home from work. She claimed to be of Eritrean origin and was granted asylum in Canada in 2010. According to the Toronto Star, she became a member of the local St. Michael’s Eritrean Orthodox Church and “while members of Toronto’s close-knit Eritrean community said Semret was not well-known because she hadn’t been in Canada long, a local Eritrean church offered to pay for her funeral with funds from the community.” Although the article admitted to not knowing why she sought asylum, they were quick to point out that Eritrea “is ruled by one of the most repressive regimes in the world.” [86] As later reported by Sam B of Natna blog (site down), she was later found to be an Ethiopian by the Eritrean community. [87] After learning of this information, the police notified local reporters who did not publish the new information but instead increased their attack on Eritrea. As Sam B notes, Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun even poses that the Eritrean government may have had a motive to kill her. “Could that motive have stemmed from a scam from her former country where refugees are shaken down and threatened to pay a special tax back to their homeland or face retribution?” he asks. [88] In spite of full knowledge of her identity, the Eritrean community “did not interfere in the prayer or vigil held for her. They in fact fully supported it. As one community leader put it; ‘she has no one, Ethiopian or otherwise, she is our sister, too.’” [89] Sadly, stories like these don’t make the headlines.

Asylum fraud under an Eritrean identity also happens regularly in the United States as well. According to an article published in the Oregonian on October 13, 2012, a group of Eritrean and African refugees were resettled in Threemile Canyon Farms in Oregon via the International Rescue Committee [90]. The article states that among the refugees is “Thierry Gasasu, an Eritrean.” Most Eritreans reading this are probably chuckling at this quote. Although there are an array of different ethnic groups in Eritrea, they know that Gasasu is not an Eritrean name. In fact, it is a well known Rwandan name. Honest error? Perhaps. The reality is that this same sort of error keeps happening again and again, often going unchecked by the media or their watchdogs. For instance, back in 2010, the New York Times falsely claimed that an Ethiopian indicted on terror charges was of Eritrean origin. On March 10, 2010, however, Radio Sweden, reported that  “Sabrina Schroff, the man’s lawyer in the United States, says that the Ethiopian native denies all the accusations. The New York Times identifies him as Eritrean, but the Swedish Foreign Minister holds that he is originally from Ethiopia.” [91] Despite the NYT’s error CNN was still calling him a “resident of Sweden originally from Eritrea” almost two entire years later. [92]

The above cases of asylum fraud and false claims of Eritrean identity cannot be taken lightly. Firstly, they only represent the cases of those who were caught. How about the countless others? As illustrated above, many of the false asylum-seekers cases are of Ethiopian origin, which is likely due to the shared cultural, linguistic, and physical features of the sisterly peoples. Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, is 15 times more populous than Eritrea. It also has multiple active insurgencies and multiple reports of genocide in different parts of the country. In fact, post-Meles Zenawi Ethiopia, a ethno-federalist state with a quickly growing Muslim protest movement, [93] is among the top 15 states expected to disintegrate and become ungovernable in the next fifteen years, according to the “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Trends” published by the US National Intelligence Council. [94] Thus, how is it possible that Ethiopia comprises less asylum-seekers than Eritrea (43,400 from Eritrea vs. 42,500 from Ethiopia)? [95] As illustrated in the many cases above, the authorities of resettling nations are reporting of growing numbers of Ethiopians claiming asylum under an Eritrean identity, dating as far back as 2004. If most nations with the exception of the United States get their referrals from the UNHCR, why do no official UNHCR documents make no mention of this trend?

If we also compare the US resettlement data from the department of Health and Human Services website [96], we see that Eritrea has had progressively increasing resettlement numbers while Ethiopian resettlement numbers have waned (Fig. 1). The drop in FY 2002 is due to 9/11. From early 2007 to mid-2009, the US embassy stopped processing non-immigrant visa, which may account for the dip in US resettlement. [97] If that is in fact the case, then that suggests that the issuing of visas by the US Embassy in Eritrea has a significant effect on US resettlement. This is something that should be monitored closely. 2,032 are expected to be resettled  in the US this year.

Figure 1. Refugee Resettlement in the United States since FY 2000.

Part 3: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-3/

Part 1: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea/

References

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3. “Exclusive: Eritrea reduces support for al Shabaab – U.N. report.” Maasho, Aaron. Reuters.  July 16, 2012. link

4. ibid.

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33. “UN envoy reports no evidence of ‘child soldiering’ in Ethiopia and Eritrea” United Nations New Centre. March 26, 2002  2002. link

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41. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR33/001/2002/en/37f3a8f8-d79f-11dd-b024-21932cd2170d/eur330012002en.html

42. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR33/001/2002/en/37f3a8f8-d79f-11dd-b024-21932cd2170d/eur330012002en.html

43. http://www.interventionism.info/en/CSI-comment:–Does-Amnesty-International-campaign-for-NATO

44. “Views on Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa: Proceedings of an African Migration Alliance Workshop.” Catherine Cross, Derik Gelderblom, Niel Roux and Jonathan Mafukidze. Human Sciences Research Council. Apr 1, 2007. Page 104.

45.  http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/32377.htm

46. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/03/2012317172129621636.html

47. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-29/eritrea-calls-ethiopia-s-new-stance-a-declaration-of-war-.html

48. http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B/%28httpCountrySummaries%29/09DE409E7595E1C1C125755F002D831E?OpenDocument&count=10000

49. “Ethiopia’s Ethnic Cleansing.” Calhoun, Craig. Dissent. pg. 47-50. Winter 1999.

50. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200606/13/eng20060613_273561.html

51. http://www.refugeecooperation.org/publications/Sudan/07_bartsch.php

52. ibid.

53. Kibreab, Gaim; Ohta, Itaru; Gebre, Yntiso D. “Displacement Risks in Africa: Refugees, Resettlers and Their Host Population.” Trans Pacific Press. Pg. 143-145. Mar 1, 2005.

54. R. Ek. “UNHCR’s operation in eastern Sudan, 1967-2009: lessons learned.” UNHCR, March 2009.

55. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=07ASMARA56

56.  “Regulation of Sexual Conduct in Un Peacekeeping Operations” Simić, Olivera. Springer. Pg. 36. Aug 18, 2012.

57. “Eritrea: UNMEE Dismisses Criticism by Top Military Official.” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network. May 4, 2004. link

58. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=463ef21123&date=2007-10-09&cat=Africa

59. http://dehai.org/demarcation-watch/articles/Ghidewon_Abay_Asmerom_UNMEE_abusing_the_welcome.html

60. http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/human-trafficking.htm

61. http://www.culturalorientation.net/providing-orientation/overseas/programs/rsc-africa/eritrean-highlight

62. http://www.unhcr.org/468d0f88c.html

63. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08ADDISABABA2749

64. http://asmarino.com/en/54-awyat/427-peaceful-demonstration-in-eritrean-refugee-camp-ethiopia-shimelba-06122009

65. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2002/13892.htm

66. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2003/44338.htm

67. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/asst/rl/rpts/36116.htm

68. http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/74762.pdf

69. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

70. http://allafrica.com/stories/201303130930.html

71. http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/15/egypt-don-t-deport-eritreans

72. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25120

73. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,USCRI,,AGO,,485f50c0c,0.html

74. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Panapress. Oct 13, 2011.

75. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/198157.pdf

76. “Eritrea asks Israel to deport ‘deserters.’” Ravid, Barak. Ha’aretz. March 25, 2008.

77. “Israel detains Eritrean refugee for 18 months because he couldn’t prove his identity.” Weiler-Polak, Dana. Ha’aretz. May 24, 2011.

78. “Eritreans turned down for asylum after Ethiopia claims refugees as their own” Nesher, Talila. Ha’aretz. October 24, 2011.  link

79. “The dark side of Tel Aviv.” Ynetnews. Adino Ababa, Danny. June 7, 2012. link

80. “52% of Jewish Israelis say illegal African migrants a ‘cancer.” LA Times. June 8, 2012.

81. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/closing-the-holes-and-the-loopholes-1.278503

82. http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/229304

83. “Closing the holes and the loopholes.” Wuraft, Nurit. Ha‘aretz.  June 21, 2009. link

84. “Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions.” Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. HC 535, Session 2003-2004: June 23, 2004. link

85. “Former Miss Ethiopia unlawfully held by British immigration.” Daily Telegraph. June 16, 2009.

86. http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2012/10/24/cabbagetown_murder_stabbing_victim_was_a_married_mother_of_4_from_eritrea.html

87. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

88. http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/26/police-keeping-open-mind-in-cabbagetown-murder

89. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

90. http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2012/10/steve_duin_the_endless_hours_o.html

91. “Swedish Resident Charged with Terrorism in US Court.” Radio Sweden. March 10, 2010. Re-published link

92. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/13/justice/new-york-al-shabaab

93. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/ethiopias-anti-apartheid-movement/

94. http://www.dni.gov/index.php/about/organization/national-intelligence-council-global-trends

95. http://www.unhcr.org/4ce531e09.pdf

96. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/fiscal-year-2012-refugee-arrivals

97. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18939

98. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

99. “East African soccer team players defect, settle in Houston.” Susan Carroll. Houston Chronicle. May 23, 2012. link

100. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/c49034.htm

101. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/239914

102. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

103. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=soccer&id=4747830

104. http://www.unhcr.org/49ba623f2.html

105. http://www.unhcr.org/4daef2e39.html

106. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

107. http://www.unhcr.org/print/4daef2e39.html

108. “Eritrea and European Community: Country Strategy Paper And National Indicative Programme For the period 2009-2013.” Global Forum on Migration and Development. Pg. 59. 2009. link

109. “Eritrean president appears to quash death rumour.” Agence France Presse. April 28, 2012. link

110. http://awate.com/the-unusual-absence-of-isaias-afwerki/

111. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

112. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1664-ms-elizabeth-chyrum-and-professor-dan-connel-in-boston

113. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1663-statement-from-icer-the-president-of-eritreas-letter-on-human-trafficking-to-the-secretary-general-of-the-un33

114. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.RES.21.1.doc

115. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=437

116. http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12608&LangID=E

117. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43831&Cr=Eritrea&Cr1#.UT6MlVeNASg

118. ibid.

119. http://asmarino.com/editorial/1609-elizabeth-elsa-chyrum-a-woman-of-the-year-2012b

120. Letter dated February 2008. “Re: Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council” link

121. Letter dated March 31, 2010. “Re: May 2010 UN Human Rights Council elections” link

122. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

123. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/13/au-don-t-endorse-sudan-ethiopia-rights-council

124. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

125. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/31/AR2009033104115.html

126. www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.L.15_en.doc

127. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/07/201207128920.html#ixzz2NMWKQXXz

128. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ecosoc6493.doc.htm

129. http://www.defenddefenders.org/2012/12/end-of-year-message-from-ehahrdps-executive-director/

130. http://hrc-eritrea.org/?p=467

131. http://youtu.be/mHrwa1rU2Nk

132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hozKaSQy1bs

133. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/ap-army-africa-brigade-train-anti-terror-teams-122412/

134. http://www.thelocal.se/46402/20130226/#.USyo2mft8wx

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 1)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

Introduction

On March 1, 2013, Joel Millman of the Wall Street Journal published a piece entitled “Ruthless Kidnapping Rings Reach From Desert Sands to U.S. Cities.” The article chronicles the touching personal accounts of Eritrean refugees being kidnapped and taken for ransom in Egypt’s Sinai desert. As disheartening as this piece may be to even the most apathetic observers, Eritreans are growing increasingly aware of the fact that similar articles highlighting the trafficking of Eritreans are becoming a regular occurrence. Although human trafficking, smuggling, and migration have been longstanding problems that have plagued the so-called developing world, it seems somewhat curious that Eritrea is suddenly getting the brunt of the international attention. Why now? Although increased international attention may be positive in that it sheds needed light on the plight of the affected migrants, the reality is that pieces like this are often politically motivated, lacking context, skewing the facts on the ground, and serving as part of larger campaign to vilify and isolate Eritrea.

Before we delve into this whole human trafficking ordeal, we must note that Eritrea was the target of UN sanctions in 2009. Since then, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) has been regularly reporting on Eritrea’s role in Somalia to the Security Council. The group has made many ridiculous claims ranging from Eritrea’s alleged support of al-Shabab in Somalia to a failed bombing attempt on an African Union summit in Ethiopia. Both accusations were later shown to be false [1, 2]. As the last SEMG report reveals, linking Eritrea to terrorism is a futile task. [3] The expectations of the nation seem like a moving target and now the new focus of the international media and the SEMG is on Eritrea’s “use of revenues from the taxation of Eritrean citizens in the diaspora, from human trafficking of refugees through Sudan and Egypt, and from gold mining.” [4] The emerging concerns regarding a sovereign state’s use of its revenues from any legitimate source–be it from a diaspora tax or gold mining or whatever–is a mystery unworthy of pursuit. The human trafficking issue, however, is a serious allegation that may be used in conjunction with broader human rights allegations to build a case for the expansion of UN sanctions on Eritrea. Thus, the issue requires further inspection.

In a speech regarding human trafficking delivered at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 25 of last year, President Obama made the following remarks:

I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea.  We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers.  We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts.  And we’re seeing results.  More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws. [5]

What kind of “partnering” is he talking about, exactly? It’s not within the US’s authority or obligations to help people escape from a nation. To do so would be human smuggling. President Obama is essentially admitting to taking part in smuggling people out of Eritrea and North Korea. The US can only support those who take refuge in the US following immigration from another nation. The president’s comments came as surprise to many Eritreans.

About one month later, Eritrea’s presidential advisor, Yemane Gebreab, explained that “Eritrea is a victim of human trafficking” and that “for a number of years now, some people have felt that one way that they could weaken Eritrea would be by encouraging Eritrean youths to leave the country in larger numbers.” [6] Are his claims valid? Is there a systematic effort to drive youth out of Eritrea?

Linking Eritrea to Human Trafficking

Let us rewind to May 5, 2009. In a wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “Promoting Educational Opportunity for Anti-Regime Eritrean Youth,” the then US Ambassador to Eritrea, Ronald K. McMullen explained that “Post plans to restart visa services (completely suspended in 2007) for student visa applicants; we intend to give opportunities to study in the United States to those who oppose the regime.” [7] He then goes on:

Post intends to begin adjudicating student visa applications, regardless of whether the regime is willing to issue the applicant an Eritrean passport and exit visa. If an applicant is otherwise found eligible for a student visa, Post will issue it in a Form DS-232…With an Eritrean passport and an F1 visa in a Form DS-232, the lucky young person is off to America. For those visa recipients who manage to leave the country and receive UNHCR refugee status, a UN-authorized travel document might allow the young person to travel to America with his or her F1 in the DS-232.

…Due to the Isaias regime´s ongoing restrictions on Embassy Asmara, Post does not contemplate a resumption of full visa services in the near future. However, giving young Eritreans hope, the chance for an education, and the skills with which to rebuild their impoverished country in the post-Isaias period is one of the strongest signals we can send to the Eritrean people that the United States has not abandoned them. Were we to begin processing student visa applications and require a regime-issued passport, we would be seen as strengthening the dictatorship´s hand. Thus, the limited category-specific exemption outlined above is key.

The cable’s title alone, reveals the ambassador’s intentions. And if one wonders why brain drain is an issue in the developing world, perhaps this cable may provide some insight. What young person, anywhere in the world, wouldn’t want a chance to come to the US? Though the more important question is, why now? Why restart issuing visas in 2009 after a two year suspension? Perhaps the answers will become clear shortly. McMullen, who clearly seeks to weaken the Eritrean “regime” (as in “government we don’t like”), also makes curious mention of preparing for a “post-Isaias period,” which becomes more interesting when one considers that his doctoral thesis at the University of Iowa was on the “Economic Consequences of African Coups D’etat.” [8] He also served as the Charge’ d’Affaires in the Fiji Islands during the 2000 coup d’etat. In another leaked cable he predicted the Eritrean government is ‘‘one bullet away from implosion’’ and posed that “any sudden change in government is likely to be initiated from within the military.” [9] McMullen is no longer the ambassador but in light of the recently fabricated “coup” rumor that the international mainstream media has been recklessly trumpeting,  [10] perhaps the US sent McMullen to make use of his expertise. As Rafael Correa once jokingly stated, “the only country that can be sure never to have a coup d’état is the United States because it hasn’t got a U.S. Embassy.”

While on the one hand secretly promoting Eritrean youth migration, the US administration was simultaneously taking actions against Eritrea for not doing enough to stop it. One month after McMullen’s cable announcing the secret restart of F1 visa processing, in violation of the basic tenets of consular relations, the US Administration suddenly classified Eritrea as a “Tier 3″ nation in the US State Department’s June 2009 “Trafficking in Persons Report.” [11] Keep in mind that Eritrea didn’t even make the list in 2008 and, unlike other nations that started off with Tier 1 and 2 warnings, Eritrea jumped straight to Tier 3. The entire reasoning behind doing this is that it allows trafficking nations to meet the “minimum standards” by the following year. [12] As a result of this unprecedented move, President Obama added Eritrea and 5 other African countries to a blacklist that would subject them “to the trafficking sanctions, which can include a ban on non-humanitarian and trade-related aid and U.S. opposition to loans and credits from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.” [13]

What did the report say about Eritrea, exactly? In essence it stated that Eritrea was a “source country” for human trafficking and that it didn’t do enough to prevent the practice. That could apply to almost every nation on the planet. Notably, the report focused more on “large numbers of migrant workers” and made almost passing mention of the Eritrean government being “complicit in conscripting children into military service.” In spite of no significant policy changes to the Eritrean national service program, subsequent reports, which are released annually, focused less on the “migrant workers” and increasingly more on the “conscripts,” “adolescent children” being sent to Sawa, and “child laborers.” More on this later.

Following the TIP report, US ambassador McMullen’s writes in an August 26, 2009 leaked diplomatic cable about a young unnamed Eritrean “who is preparing to flee the country” and supposedly confesses the intricate details of his escape plan. [14] McMullen writes that he will “use one of the Eritrean National Security Officers (ENSO), who he claimed to be the ringleaders in smuggling of Eritreans to the Sudan border” and “he stated the cost at 80,000 nakfa.” This is the first time we see official US documentation of claims that Eritrean government officials are directly involved in the smuggling of citizens outside the country. This is despite the fact that about a year earlier the Chargé d’Affaires, Matthew D. Smith, confessed in another leaked diplomatic cable entitled “How To Escape From Eritrea” that “the GSE [Government of the State of Eritrea] is very keen to break these human smuggling rings and dispatches agents to pose as potential customers. Other agents pose as facilitators, making all of the supposed smuggling arrangements prior to having the unsuspecting person arrested.” [15]

In spite of the Eritrean government’s efforts to combat smuggling, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) produced a report in 2011 that expanded on McMullen’s claims. The report states:

421. The well-documented exodus of young Eritreans to escape poverty or obligatory “national service” represents yet another opportunity for corruption and illicit revenue. People smuggling is so pervasive that it could not be possible without the complicity of Government and party officials, especially military officers working in the western border zone, which is headed by General Teklai Kifle “Manjus”. Multiple sources have described to the Monitoring Group how Eritrean officials collaborate with ethnic Rashaida smugglers to move their human cargo through the Sudan into Egypt and beyond. This is in most respects the same network involved in smuggling weapons through to Sinai and into Gaza.

422. According to former Eritrean military officials and international human rights activists, military officers involved in the practice charge roughly $3,000 a head for each person exiting Eritrea.

…The Monitoring Group has obtained details of a Swiss bank account into which the proceeds from smuggling have been deposited and has provided the Swiss authorities with information related to this account, together with the personal and contact details of the Swiss-based coordinator of this trafficking ring and details of the coordinator’s Egypt-based associates. [16]

For the SEMG’s extraordinary claims it cites as its only sources an “interview with Eritrean individuals directly involved in people smuggling operations” and an “interview with Eritrean source, Switzerland, March 2011.” In the 2012 follow-up report, the SEMG repeats the same human trafficking claims, citing no sources as evidence. “The trafficking of arms and people is managed by the same networks using the same vehicles, and the same Eritrean officials are implicated,” the report states. The SEMG then claims to have acquired 1,300 testimonies of which “61 were from Eritreans who identified the names of Rashaida smugglers.” Artfully interweaving groups of similar testimonies as vignettes, the report attempts to illustrate the validity of earlier claims made by the SEMG. Finally, it shows photos of body wounds of two unnamed and faceless torture victims. The annex is only 3 pages long, filled with photos, and has nothing to do with human trafficking allegations.

After reading both reports, one is left scratching their head. That’s it? No real people’s names? No bank account numbers? No photos of human traffickers? Where is the hard evidence? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. To put things in perspective, imagine a man is brought to trial on charges of torture and the prosecuting team presents the following as their “evidence” against him:

1. Claims against him by unnamed interviewers with no transcripts for the court to review

2. Pictures of unnamed and faceless victims he allegedly tortured

3. 61 snippets of testimonies by the nameless victims who he allegedly tortured

4. Claims against him by people who openly call themselves his “opposition“

5. Claims against him by one of his former torturer buddies, who is unnamed

The defendant then demands access to the evidence and witnesses for cross-examination but his request is denied. Based on the information, he is then found guilty and expected to accept his sentence. Would that be justice? Of course not. However, this is exactly what Eritrea has had to face regularly in regards to the UN Security Council and SEMG reports. This system of international law requires incredible trust in the prosecutors–the SEMG, in this case–who Eritrea had no say in appointing. And if we think that the SEMG is actually a committee of independent experts as opposed to a prosecuting team, then why would the head of the SEMG, Matt Bryden, say “we’re trying to make the case that any improvement in Eritrea’s conduct is the result of sanctions, and that it’s too early to lift them because of the other violations they have committed”? [17] In essence, he’s saying ‘yeah, I know we couldn’t find evidence that they support terrorism but please keep the sanctions because of this new human trafficking ordeal.’ In other words he is prosecuting and making a case against Eritrea and, unfortunately, it’s completely within his mandate to share his opinion [18]. That’s UN justice for you. The SEMG’s “evidence” would be considered a joke if wasn’t so serious. According to the UNSC, the successful implementation of “targeted sanctions” on any nation is premised on the expectations that the “panel of experts” will uphold the highest standards of evidence, which is the key tenet of the 2003 Stockholm Process. In this regard, the 2003 UNSC states:

While recognizing that it might sometimes be necessary to uphold the confidentiality of sources of information available to expert panels or monitoring groups regarding sanctions busting or non-compliance, the Stockholm paper notes that the credibility of the findings and the integrity of the process required that evidence be as transparent and verifiable as possible….sanctions should be based on concrete evidence of violations of international law or Council obligations, and not based on presumptions, media reports or motivated allegations. [19]

The SEMG report clearly falls short. To make matters worse, Eritrea doesn’t get to comment or defend itself at any point in the process because according to the SEMG, which unprofessionally leaked the report to the media before Eritrea could see it, [20] “the Government of Eritrea failed to provide responses to any Monitoring Group correspondence and declined to grant the repeated requests.” How convenient. Where have we seen this sort of tactic before? For years, the world has been unable to hear Eritrea’s side of the story:

A. On the Kenyan defections: “Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.” [21]

B. On Eritrea’s alleged bombing of the AU (proved false by WikiLeaks [22]): “Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.” [23]

C. On claims of human trafficking: “Eritrean government…did not respond to requests to provide information for this report.” [24]

D. On relations with the US: “It has been difficult to talk to Eritrea frankly. We have had trouble getting them to talk to us. I sent the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs to talk with Mr. Isaias and he didn’t see her.” [25]

E. On breakdown of US-Eritrea relations: “Eritrean officials were not immediately available to comment on the decision” [26]

The list goes on and on, ad infintum. The point is that Eritrea is not allowed to defend itself in court, in the media, in reports, or anywhere in the international arena. It’s no surprise that Eritrea is so misunderstood by the world. In contrast, the darlings of the mainstream media, the US and Ethiopia, were also accused of violating the Somali arms embargo by the former Somalia monitoring groups yet we saw no prosecution by the UNSC. Is this justice? No way! In the words of Gerald Celente, it’s “just-us” and unfortunately Eritrea isn’t one of “them.”

Following the SEMG report, the UNHCR released a report in November 2012 entitled “Refugees and the Rashaida: human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” [27] The document states that “it has come to light that some members of the military and Eritrean Government are complicit in smuggling” and it references the 2012 SEMG report. It talks about General Teklai Kifle, adding no new information, and then goes on at length about the Rashaida ethnic group’s involvement in the human trafficking business. In regards to both of them, “it is thought there are varying levels of experience and organization within the groups of Rashaida who engage in taking Eritreans to Sinai. However other networks, such as those organized by some members of the Eritrean Government for smuggling arms are highly organized.” In other words, the government is the syndicate–the major player. What’s interesting about this particular report is the divisive new ethnic and regional dimension it seems to take:

There is a marked difference between the majority of the refugee population and those now leaving Eritrea. Those now leaving the country are young, Christian, Tigrinya from urban areas. Much like young Sudan-born refugees, the new arrivals are generally unwilling to remain in an enclosed camp setting without access to higher education or employment.

…Eritrean brokers are key to arranging onward movement with Rashaida from within the camp. The facilitators in the route are usually of the same ethnicity as those embarking on the movement (Hamood 2006: 50). Furthermore, life in the refugee camp is characterized by ethnic divides. Different ethnicities are thought to have different aspirations. One testimony states that people from Akele-Guzai region are thought to have strong connections abroad and to be most likely going to Israel. Those from Maekel region are believed to be going to Europe, while those from Gash Barka are simply associated with smuggling people out of Eritrea and settling in Sudan (Mehari 2010).

Turning to the reference section to investigate the source of the aforementioned claims, the report cites an “unpublished paper” by someone named “Mehari, K” (Mehari, K. 2010. ‘Desert in Disorder’ unpublished paper). Investigating the rest  of the citations for follow-up is a futile task as most references are made to personal interviews with individuals like Meron Estifanos, who was integral in propagating the fabricated “coup” in January 2013 and using it as a springboard for the so-called “Forto 2013″ campaign. [28]

Returning to the latest publication of the US State Department TIP report, we hear echoes of the SEMG’s allegations of corruption by senior Eritrean army officers. As opposed to the 2009 report, the 2012 publication is focused less on migrants workers more on youth conscripted into national service. More notably, the report seems to focus on the Eritrean government’s alleged conscription of minors. It states that “adolescent children that attempt to leave Eritrea have been forced into military service despite being younger than the minimum service age of 18. As part of the requirements to complete their senior year of high school, adolescent children are also sent to Sawa, Eritrea’s military academy, prior to their eighteenth birthday.” Surprisingly, this claim was later cited by Child Soldiers International in a 2012 case study to support the claim that Eritrea uses child soldiers. This “study” was, in turn, posted on the UNHCR website and is currently being used by journalists and various NGO’s to propagate the notion that Eritrea’s use of “child soldiers” is driving youth out of the country.

Nowhere is the international media’s desperation to point out the Eritrean government’s blunders more evident than in its claim that Eritrea uses “child soldiers.” When the average person reads about child soldiers in Africa, she/he may conjure up the classical CNN-promoted image of regime-indoctrinated 9 year-olds mowing down civilians. Perhaps the image is sometimes a wee bit less graphic but the reality is that the claims of child soldiers in Africa perpetuates the stereotype of a barbaric Africa out of control and encourages intervention against nations like Eritrea. Thus, such claims must be taken seriously. In regards to their Eritrea study, Child Soldiers International states the following:

To prevent increasing evasion of national service by school leavers, the government announced in 2003 that the final year of secondary education, Year 12, must be performed at the Sawa Military Training Camp in western Eritrea near the border with Sudan. Because the Year 12 designation is based not on a child’s age but rather on the school grade achieved, some Year 12 students are under 18 years old. According to a recent US State Department report on human rights in Eritrea, “Students at Sawa were typically 18 years old or older, although a fair percentage were as young as 16 years old”.

The government denies underage conscription and argues that students attending the twelfth grade in Sawa should not be confused with national service conscripts. However, the Year 12 students at Sawa have military status and are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence and subject to military discipline. They are therefore in reality soldiers, even if not fully operational members of the Eritrean National Army. [29]

The sad part about this is that the “Eritrea recruits child soldiers” claim is entirely based on this hair splitting of mandatory twelfth grade education. Such reporting is irresponsible for two reasons. Firstly, this report is based on non-independent politically biased sources like the US State Department. Secondly, even if 16-year-olds attended Sawa they are not considered members of the Eritrean National Army, as CSI even admits. Consideration should also be given to the fact that while most of the world submits to more lax standards on child soldier laws enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Africa has collectively gone above and beyond by signing the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which by default accedes to the “Optional Protocols” of the CRC and increases the minimum military recruitment age from 15 to 18. [30] Given these more stringent laws and the known fact that most reported child soldiers are between ages 15-18 years old, it’s no surprise that half of the world’s child soldiers are in Africa. [31] Regardless of the facts, the media is quick dish out the child soldier label in Africa. There’s a reason why the spineless international media points out “child soldiers” in Eritrea while it ignores “child soldiers” in the UK, which is also a signatory to the Option Protocols and refers to the exact same argument as Eritrea. [32] Let us also refresh the UN’s memory and recall that in 2002, the UNSC Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, visited Eritrea to assess the use of child soldiers. He concluded that there was “no systematic use of child soldiers” and said that “the absence of the ‘child soldiering’ phenomenon was particularly impressive since no other conflict zone he had visited recently had been free of the problem.” [33]

As shown above, there seems to be a concerted effort to link Eritrea to human trafficking. The reality is that we have yet to see any hard evidence to support this allegation. To make matters worse the international press almost reflexively blames it on child soldiers, forced labor, and lack of [insert word like freedom, democracy, religion, or other's words used to destroy Iraq, Libya, etc.]. As some of the wikileaked diplomatic cables suggest, the US State Department has made efforts to drive youth out of Eritrea to weaken the government. It then turns around and blames the Eritrean government for “human trafficking.” These actions are part of a broader concerted and systematic effort by the US Administration to destroy Eritrea through the control of human migration. To understand this we must go back in history.

Part 2: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-2/

Part 3: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-3/

 

References

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60. http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/human-trafficking.htm

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68. http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/74762.pdf

69. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

70. http://allafrica.com/stories/201303130930.html

71. http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/15/egypt-don-t-deport-eritreans

72. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25120

73. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,USCRI,,AGO,,485f50c0c,0.html

74. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Panapress. Oct 13, 2011.

75. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/198157.pdf

76. “Eritrea asks Israel to deport ‘deserters.’” Ravid, Barak. Ha’aretz. March 25, 2008.

77. “Israel detains Eritrean refugee for 18 months because he couldn’t prove his identity.” Weiler-Polak, Dana. Ha’aretz. May 24, 2011.

78. “Eritreans turned down for asylum after Ethiopia claims refugees as their own” Nesher, Talila. Ha’aretz. October 24, 2011.  link

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80. “52% of Jewish Israelis say illegal African migrants a ‘cancer.” LA Times. June 8, 2012.

81. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/closing-the-holes-and-the-loopholes-1.278503

82. http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/229304

83. “Closing the holes and the loopholes.” Wuraft, Nurit. Ha‘aretz.  June 21, 2009. link

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85. “Former Miss Ethiopia unlawfully held by British immigration.” Daily Telegraph. June 16, 2009.

86. http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2012/10/24/cabbagetown_murder_stabbing_victim_was_a_married_mother_of_4_from_eritrea.html

87. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

88. http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/26/police-keeping-open-mind-in-cabbagetown-murder

89. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

90. http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2012/10/steve_duin_the_endless_hours_o.html

91. “Swedish Resident Charged with Terrorism in US Court.” Radio Sweden. March 10, 2010. Re-published link

92. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/13/justice/new-york-al-shabaab

93. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/ethiopias-anti-apartheid-movement/

94. http://www.dni.gov/index.php/about/organization/national-intelligence-council-global-trends

95. http://www.unhcr.org/4ce531e09.pdf

96. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/fiscal-year-2012-refugee-arrivals

97. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18939

98. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

99. “East African soccer team players defect, settle in Houston.” Susan Carroll. Houston Chronicle. May 23, 2012. link

100. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/c49034.htm

101. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/239914

102. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

103. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=soccer&id=4747830

104. http://www.unhcr.org/49ba623f2.html

105. http://www.unhcr.org/4daef2e39.html

106. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

107. http://www.unhcr.org/print/4daef2e39.html

108. “Eritrea and European Community: Country Strategy Paper And National Indicative Programme For the period 2009-2013.” Global Forum on Migration and Development. Pg. 59. 2009. link

109. “Eritrean president appears to quash death rumour.” Agence France Presse. April 28, 2012. link

110. http://awate.com/the-unusual-absence-of-isaias-afwerki/

111. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

112. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1664-ms-elizabeth-chyrum-and-professor-dan-connel-in-boston

113. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1663-statement-from-icer-the-president-of-eritreas-letter-on-human-trafficking-to-the-secretary-general-of-the-un33

114. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.RES.21.1.doc

115. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=437

116. http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12608&LangID=E

117. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43831&Cr=Eritrea&Cr1#.UT6MlVeNASg

118. ibid.

119. http://asmarino.com/editorial/1609-elizabeth-elsa-chyrum-a-woman-of-the-year-2012b

120. Letter dated February 2008. “Re: Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council” link

121. Letter dated March 31, 2010. “Re: May 2010 UN Human Rights Council elections” link

122. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

123. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/13/au-don-t-endorse-sudan-ethiopia-rights-council

124. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

125. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/31/AR2009033104115.html

126. www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.L.15_en.doc

127. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/07/201207128920.html#ixzz2NMWKQXXz

128. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ecosoc6493.doc.htm

129. http://www.defenddefenders.org/2012/12/end-of-year-message-from-ehahrdps-executive-director/

130. http://hrc-eritrea.org/?p=467

131. http://youtu.be/mHrwa1rU2Nk

132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hozKaSQy1bs

133. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/ap-army-africa-brigade-train-anti-terror-teams-122412/

134. http://www.thelocal.se/46402/20130226/#.USyo2mft8wx

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“The Ethical Water Exchange is THE platform to transform wastewater into a clean tradable resource: treated wastewater.”

Posted on 11 February 2013 by Africa Business

Exclusive interview with Valérie Issumo, Founder, Prana Sustainable Water, Switzerland.  She will address the Water track at African Utility Week on: “Ethical water exchange – the monetary value of recycled wastewater”.

1) You have created an Ethical Water Exchange which is a trading platform to buy or sell commoditized treated wastewater.  Kindly can you give us some background and facts and figures on the current situation in untreated wastewater in Africa?

The 3 most critical global challenges to be solved urgently are:

-      water pollution endangering our health, planet and growth: how to cope technically with complex chemical wastes (nano pollutants, radioactive)

-      water infrastructures finance

-      river bassin management prioritizing human rights (2500 liters/capita/day including water footprint for 2’000 calories/day) and ecosystems services without geopardizing current small sources of revenues

 

Africa has unfortunately the biggest share in the lack of access to water and sanitation and the official numbers are not reflecting the reality if we add the volumes of intreated wastewater du to bad working status.  These problems of lack of access to sanitation and untreated wastewater endangering our health, our environment and our economy could be solved by matching part of the water footprints of commodities with the supplies of treated wastewater for part of the water input of those commodities. Productions of future crops or extractions can happen and be financed thanks to the matching of purchases & sales commitments via futures contracts which are traded on commodities exchanges or futures markets.

Commodities like gold, coffee, soya, copper, nickel…. traded on futures markets sometimes up to 5 years before their production is a good opportunity to correlate the commitments for those commodities with the water procurement security for those commodities and/or to internalize the externalities for those commodities in order to link the credit lines for those commodities with decentralized wastewater infrastructures.

 

Collection and treating in priority floods, domestic and organic wastewater means that related wastewater become a valuable resource when treated and consequently leads to the development of sanitation. For example, approx. 1’500 liters of water must be used to get one kg of refined cane sugar. If supplementary irrigation is necessary like in Swaziland or in Australia, part of the water footprint can come DIRECTLY from treated wastewater from the communities or activities near the sugarcane fields.

Water depletion or water resources contamination is not yet considered in GDP évaluation (or not enoughly). There is not a sigle product or service that hasn’t got water as input or as water footprint so the water interdependencies are on productions, on health, on social, environmental and economic fields.

Water contamination does not recognize any borders, neither do the international trade.  This makes the challenges global.  Nevertheless water problems or opportunities must be tackled locally.

 

The Ethical Water Exchange is the platform to transform wastewater into a clean tradable resource: treated wastewater. This will help to link & correlate partial water footprints of some commodities traded on futures markets with potential supplies of standard treated wastewater.

To match sanitation with the visibility of committed offers & demands of some commodities with huge water footprints and sometimes traded 4 to 5 years before their productions is a way to leapfrog the urgent & massive needs to reduce bad consequences of untreated wastewater.

 

2) What would the Ethical Water Exchange mean for the African market, for  example the cotton industry?

 

Cotton water footprint is approximately 10’000 liters/kg of cotton a cotton t-shirt has an average water footprint of 2’700 liters of water.  Now guess what happens if noxious wastewater reaches the cotton cultures? Yields and pollination drop, cotton growers must use more fertilizers and – as you can see on this graph – cotton prices become very volatile.

 

Trends of energy that must come from renewable energy is a good opportunity for Positive Energy Wastewater facilities that produce more energy than they consume.

> a wastewater treatment line that links systems based e.g. on activated sludge with increased biogas production via anaerobic digestion

 

On a global level if only 10% of the cotton water footprint for the yearly cotton production of 25 mln tons comes from treated wastewater, access to sanitation for about 3’424’657 persons (generating 20l wastewater/capita/day) can be provided.

 

Pls see case study enclosed case study.

 

3) How big a threat is this to the economies on the continent?  How are the different sectors affected by each other?

 

Many serious reports and analysis state that by 2030, projected global water demand could exceed 40% of the current water supply.  (http://www.grida.no/graphicslib/detail/water-availability-in-africa_3368)

 

The goal is to trade ONLY treated wastewater. Wastewater that otherwise would be dumped as toxic waste with huge negative impacts on people & environment.

 

4) On a practical level, how do you see it operating?

We are awaiting the ISO standards for Treated wastewater re-use for irrigation (http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_technical_committee?commid=616869) in order to complete the specifications of the futures contracts for ethical treated wastewater.

1. A trader can cover the market and sourcing risks for future cotton crops via partial water procurement security by buying futures contracts of treated wastewater.

2A. A water management company using clean technologies generating sludge energy will get a solvent water market by selling futures contracts of treated wastewater. Collection, treatment and supplies must be smart metered.

2B. The combinations of offers/demands for commoditized treated wastewater at listed places allows the financing of decentralized sanitation and COMPETITIVE supplies of treated wastewater for cotton productions. The money goes directly for the right purpose.

3. The ethical or philanthropic part goes for treated waster water into reservoirs to be used in priority for insurance or basic human needs or climate changes needs. The transparent pricing of futures contracts for treated wastewater is calculated according to local constraints SUCH AS THE TREATED WASTEWATER THAT NEEDS TO GO BACK TO NATURE.

 

 

To execute quickly the Ethical Water Exchange solution, we don’t need thousands of actors.

 

Traders and financial institutions active on these futures markets can be the responsible catalysts for the urgent water governance.

A trader prefers to see for example Africa as a market of 1bn consumers rather than a place with 1bn survivors. This trader will ALSO be able reduce the risks of defaults for its sourcing.

 

Any financial institution can condition its credit lines to the use of futures contracts of treated wastewater to reduce the water risk exposures & to get its loans paid back.

 

Investors will choose to finance water footprints where it makes sense & where there is untreated wastewater.  This is for the good sake of efficient water use and consequently reduces the production costs.

 

If we do the same for other commodities traded on futures markets such as gold, wheat or soybean… >>> the Ethical Water Exchange can solve rapidly the vital and economic problems of water contamination or fresh water over-use.

 

Increased sanitation will accelerate the eradication of the first cause of deaths and lost of human energy and consequently help poverty alleviation.

 

If you fear BAD speculation for this new commodity, please note prices will be fixed according to the global offer/demands and final uses with progressive prices according to basic human needs like food security. For example, we all need approximately 2’000 calories a day. It is assumed that to produce 1 calorie of food, about 1 liter water is needed but it would be wrong to give priority to rice if there is for example demand for treated wastewater for copper in the same region because the copper might be used e.g. for tractors for agriculture or for houses which are also basic human needs. If the copper industry has proved that they use water more efficiently than the rice grower according to the water footprint methodologies; it is not difficult to prioritize treated wastewater for the more efficient water user (+ of course for non criminal or drugs purposes).

 

The Ethical Water Exchange is our life, DIGNITY and business INSURANCE.

 

 

5) What will be your message at African Utility Week in May?

Health is Wealth.

We also must think of the water infrastructures in terms of service hierarchy:

- safety

- availability

- affordability

Africa can save the old industrialised countries’ mistakes that have led to the financial and environmental crisis.  The conditions are to better value the African resources and not to bargain the related social and environmental costs.

6) Anything you would like to add?

African leaders should not be shy to follow the European model mainly based on state interventions.

 

 

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