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Ten African Government Ministers confirm attendance at the 15th Africa Energy Forum 2013: the international forum for Africa’s power sector

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

A recent report from the World Bank indicated that the GDP of a third of African countries grew by at least 6% last year, despite the estimate that power outages cost African economies, on average, about 2% pa of their GDP.

African Ministers, heads of utilities and international energy companies will address this and other pressing issues concerning Africa’s power sector at the Africa Energy Forum in Barcelona 18-20 June. Over 800 delegates are expected to attend this international investment Forum for Africa’s power industry.

Bruno Cockburn, AEF’s Programme Development Director, commented; ‘We are delighted that Libya’s Ministry of Electricity & Renewable Energy, the General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL), Peter Kieran, Chief Executive Officer of CPCS Transcom and other experts will be participating at the Libya Spotlight session at AEF 2013 and offer an in-depth analysis of Libya’s power sector.’

The latest government official to confirm his attendance at the Africa Energy Forum 2013 is the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Hydro Resources & Electricity, Bruno Kapandji Kalala. He will join Ministers from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia in Barcelona, 18 -20 June.

To view the full list of speakers please visit

http://africa-energy-forum.com/#tab-countryParticipants

Event dates:

Pre-conference workshops: 18th June 2013

Conference & Exhibition: 18-20th June 2013

Website: www.africa-energy-forum.com

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BP TO INVEST MORE THAN R5-BILLION IN SOUTH AFRICA

Posted on 23 April 2013 by Africa Business

BP today announced plans to invest in excess of R5 billion in South Africa and Mozambique over the next five years in new and on-going infrastructure upgrade projects to improve business efficiency and assist Government’s objectives to enhance energy security and enable the transition to cleaner fuels.

During a visit to South Africa today, Iain Conn, BP Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Refining and Marketing, said that BP was committed to pursuing operations and investments across Africa. In Upstream, BP is pursuing opportunities in Angola, Algeria, Namibia, Libya and Egypt. In Downstream, beyond today’s announcement about South Africa, BP is also making investments to improve and upgrade the fuel import infrastructure in neighbouring Mozambique.

In South Africa, an investment of close to R5 billion will be spent on various projects across the BP Fuels Value Chain including refinery, terminal and retail network assets. This is a sign of BP’s growing confidence in the South African economy as an attractive investment destination especially after the adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) as the road map for the country.

Mr Conn stated that around half the investment will be spent in upgrading and modernising the refinery infrastructure at Sapref, a joint venture with Shell. The infrastructure upgrade will primarily be to comply with South Africa’s proposed clean fuels requirements.

In February 2013, the South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan undertook to announce the support mechanism for biofuels and upgrade of refineries to encourage South Africa to produce cleaner fuels which are environmentally friendly.

“We anticipate that the remuneration mechanism will be finalised shortly as we have already started to invest in the project and our intent is to be ready to produce clean fuels in 2017,” said Mr Conn.

Part of the R5 billion investment is aimed at building and upgrading terminals to world-class facilities that are leading the industry in terms of safety, operational integrity and technology. BP’s investment will also ensure greater security of supply. An example of this investment is the new and recently-commissioned facility built in partnership with Sasol at Alrode outside Johannesburg. Once completed, this terminal will be the most modern and technologically advanced in Africa with high safety management systems and standards.

BP’s retail network will benefit from the announced investment which will improve customer experience. The conversion to a “best in class” convenience retail offering, in partnership with Pick n Pay, will see 120 Pick n Pay Express stores opened in the next five years across South Africa. Coupled with improvements to the BP Express convenience offering, the fuel forecourts will be upgraded with a standardised look.

Iain Conn emphasised that BP’s commitment is not only about the capital and commercial investment, it is also about being part of a South African community and continuing to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives through a focused transformation programme aligned with Government’s goal to create jobs, develop skills and build entrepreneurs, as well as achieve sustainable economic growth.

“This is part of our on-going efforts to be a good corporate citizen as we pursue our business objectives in all the markets in which we operate”, said Mr Conn.

BP has been at the forefront of transformation over a number of years. In 2001, BP became one of the first companies to form an empowerment initiative and this has resulted in cash pay-outs to BEE shareholders to the tune of R300 million.

Subsequently, Masana, a joint venture between BP and its BEE partners, was formed in 2005. This has been one of South Africa’s empowerment success stories which has doubled its growth since inception.

BP continues on pioneering the transformation journey with the latest hydrocarbon (crude oil) procurement initiative which invited and encouraged local previously disadvantaged enterprises to participate in a tender process.

A long standing support for skills development and quality education continues to be at the cornerstone of BP’s involvement in high school enrichment programmes, artisan to PhD support programmes, and general industry skills development for the previously disadvantaged. To this end, BP, as part of the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), is involved in an industry-wide skills development initiative that will culminate in a Petroleum Institute which will assist the Southern Africa region.

Mr Conn reiterated that “the investments we are making in South Africa are not only a sign of confidence in the policy direction the country is taking, but they are also our commitment to all South Africans through the successful development of the energy infrastructure, market and associated skills and opportunities.”

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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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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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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 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/

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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

1. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33911.pdf

2. http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/crimes/16-09-2011/119062-Wikileaks_says_Ethiopia_bombed_itself-0/

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

4. ibid.

5. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/25/remarks-president-clinton-global-initiative

6. “Eritrea Calls for Lifting of Sanctions.” Clottey, Peter. Voice of America News.. October 17, 2012.

7. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09ASMARA146

8. McMullen, Ronald Keith. Economic consequences of African coups d’etat. Diss. University of Iowa, 1985.

9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-eritrea-president-asaias-afwerki

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

11. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/123136.htm

12. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386). Sec. 108-109.

13. “U.S. Expands Human Trafficking Watchlist.” Associated Press. June 16, 2009. link

14. http://www.aftenposten.no/spesial/wikileaksdokumenter/26082009-ERITREAN-YOUTH-IM-FLEEING-AND-HERES-WHY-5123036.html

15. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08ASMARA575

16. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2011/433

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

18. http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1718/panelofexperts.shtml

19. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/sc7672.doc.htm

20. “In UN Sanctions Follies, Jim’ale Shifted to Somalia List, Eritrea Report Down, Bryden Spins.” Russell, Matthew Lee. Inner City Press. July 24, 2012. link

21. “Eritrea football team “hiding” in Kenya – official.” Reuters. Jack Oyoo Dec 15, 2009. link

22. http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/15/ethiopia-bombs-itself-blames-eritrea/

23. “Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of bomb plot.” Reuters. Steve Bloomfield. February 2, 2007.

24. “Trafficking in Persons Report 2012″ US Department of State. June 2012. link

25. “Foreign Affairs Committee. US Congress. 110th Session. Serial No. 110–131. Page 25. October 24, 2007. link

26. “US to suspend issuing visas in Eritrea” Sudan Tribune. Nov 27, 2006. link

27. Humphries, Rachel. “Refugees and the Rashaida: human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Research Paper No. 247. November 2012. link

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

29. “Child Soldiers International, Louder than words – Case Study: Eritrea: Widespread conscription of children goes unchecked.” September 12, 2012. link

30. “Guide to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed.” Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. The United Nations Children’s Fund. December 2003. link

31. “AFRICA: Too small to be fighting in anyone’s war”. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs News and Analysis. December 2003. link

32. “Explanatory Memorandum on the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Command Paper number: 5759″.  International Committee of the Red Cross. Customary IHL Study Database: United Kingdom: Practice: By Country: United Kingdom: Rule 137. Article 1. Paragraph 9. Updated on December 12, 2012. Accessed on March 15, 2013.  link

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

34. “No turning back: A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in eastern Sudan.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Policy Development and Evaluation Service. November 2011. link

35. “3. Norway’s policy towards UNHCR.” Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. link

36. “Africa Rising” TIME Magazine. March 30, 1998. link

37. http://www.ipsnews.net/1996/07/eritrea-population-refugees-caught-in-political-deadlock/

38. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3b20a3914.pdf

39. “No turning back: A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in eastern Sudan.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Policy Development and Evaluation Service. November 2011. link

40. “Position on Return of Rejected Asylum Seekers to Eritrea.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. January 2004.

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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Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to Libya

Posted on 10 March 2013 by Africa Business

TRIPOLI, Libya, March 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Ralph Chami visited Tripoli during February 20–March 7, 2013, to conduct discussions with the Libyan authorities in the context of the annual Article IV consultations.1 Discussions focused on measures to improve the business environment to foster inclusive growth based on diversification of the economy underpinned by private sector–led growth, develop the financial sector, and control government spending including through subsidy reform. The mission met with Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, Finance Minister Haithem Jalgham, Central Bank Governor Saddek Elkabeer, General National Congress Chairman Mohammed Magariaf, and other government and central bank officials, as well as members of the General National Congress and representatives of civil society.

At the conclusion of the discussions, Mr. Chami made the following statement:

“Economic growth in 2012 exceeded 100 percent, reflecting a strong recovery from its collapse during the revolution. Latest indicators are pointing to a restoration of hydrocarbon output later this year and a full recovery of growth in the nonhydrocarbon sector in 2014. Inflation fell to 6 percent in 2012, and a further decline is expected this year. With a considerable pickup in reconstruction expenditure and private demand, nonhydrocarbon growth is expected to average 15 percent during 2013–18.

“The financial situation began to normalize after most of the UN sanctions that had frozen Libya’s foreign assets were lifted on December 16, 2011, allowing the central bank to provide foreign exchange liquidity to banks and help normalize commercial banking operations. In 2012, broad money grew by 11.5 percent with a shift from currency into deposits reflecting increased confidence in the banking system. The banking sector appears well capitalized, but it may be vulnerable to asset quality deterioration. More recently, the authorities have introduced legislation that prohibits the payment of interest, which unless handled carefully, could pose risks to the financial sector and undermine efforts to diversify the economy.

“The short-term challenges are to manage the political transition, normalize the security situation, address severe institutional capacity constraints to ensure the timely compilation and dissemination of key statistics, and exercise budget discipline while maintaining macroeconomic stability.

“Over the medium term, the authorities should address a range of issues including institutional capacity building, improving the quality of education, rebuilding infrastructure, putting in place an efficient social safety net, developing the financial market, improving the management of the country’s resource wealth and associated financial flows with an efficient and transparent system, and reducing hydrocarbon dependency through private sector–led growth.

A significant reduction in unemployment, which is largely structural, will require major changes in economic policies and institutions. Sustainable, employment-generating growth will require a business environment that is conducive to private-sector development with a focus on diversification of the economy to create employment opportunities in the private sector.

“Libya’s public finances and external current account remain vulnerable to a sustained decline in oil prices. Increases in recurrent expenditures pose risks to fiscal sustainability and is causing appreciation of the real exchange rate. In the medium term, necessary reconstruction and development spending will push the budget into deficit in the absence of a curb on current spending.

“With fiscal sustainability in mind, the government is seeking to contain current expenditures in the 2013 budget, but further steps are needed to limit current expenditure, in particular to contain increases in salaries and the number of public employees, as well as streamlining generalized subsidies. Plans are under elaboration for a subsidy reform strategy. The implementation of a national system for the identification of active civil servants should help to reduce the number of “ghost” workers in the civil service.

“The pegged exchange rate regime will remain the policy anchor, thanks to ample foreign exchange reserves that preserve confidence in the currency, and fiscal and monetary policies need to be supportive of the peg. A credible fiscal policy anchor would delink the economy from world oil price fluctuations, improve the management of resource wealth, and safeguard macroeconomic stability. The adoption of a well-designed fiscal policy rule would help keep in check pressures on government spending and improve the management of oil price cycles.

“Efforts are needed to develop a vibrant financial sector that caters to the needs of the economy. Structural reforms are required for the development of a growth-enhancing financial system, particularly reforms to the operation of state owned institutions and a winding down of non-commercial activities. The streamlining of regulation while strengthening the supervisory framework will be important to promote financial intermediation.

“Libya’s Anti-Money Laundering and the Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) law needs to be brought in line with international standards, and resources should be devoted to its effective implementation. Financial sector development should be accompanied by strengthening AML/CFT supervision to ensure compliance. Adequate preventive measures and reporting to an independent and operational Financial Intelligence Unit will help limit destabilization from illicit financial flows.

“A comprehensive reform strategy to improve the public financial management (PFM) system will be critical to improve accountability and transparency. The thrust of PFM measures in the near term should be to address key priorities with a view to building the institutional capacity for more fundamental reforms. In this connection, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund system, operating through the Libya Investment Authority, the budget reserve account at the central bank and other funds, should be fully integrated into the fiscal framework, with well-defined and transparent rules.

“To help build capacity, the authorities and the IMF have agreed on a comprehensive technical assistance program. Data compilation remains weak and responsibilities are spread over several agencies. The authorities are keen to improve data compilation and transparency, but they need international assistance to formulate and implement a comprehensive strategy.

“The team is grateful to its interlocutors for open and constructive discussions.”

1 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities.

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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Libya could produce more energy in solar power than oil

Posted on 27 February 2013 by Africa Business

Libya could generate approximately five times the amount of energy from solar power than it currently produces in crude oil, research by Nottingham Trent University shows.

 

A study led by the university’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment found that the oil-rich nation could generate enough renewable power to meet its own demand and a “significant part of the world energy demand by exporting electricity”.

 

Libya is located on the cancer orbit line and is exposed to the sun’s rays throughout the year with long hours during the day. It has an average daily solar radiation rate of about 7.1 kilowatt hours per square metre per day (kWh/m²/day) on a flat plane on the coast and 8.1kWh/m²/day in the south region. By comparison, the UK’s average solar radiation rate is less than half that amount at about 2.95kWh/m²/day.

 

If the North African country – which is estimated to be 88 per cent desert – used 0.1% of its landmass to harness solar power, it could produce the equivalent to almost seven million barrels of crude oil per day in energy, the study found. Currently, Libya produces about 1.41 million barrels of crude oil per day.

 

Researcher Dr Amin Al-Habaibeh, who is leading the Innovative and Sustainable Built Environment Technologies research group at the university, said: “Although Libya is rich in renewable energy resources, it is in urgent need of a more comprehensive energy strategy. It is difficult to break the dependency on oil and natural gas, not just in terms of the country’s demand for it, but also in terms of the revenues that it generates.

 

“Renewable energy technology is still in its early days in Libya and a clear strategy and timetable is needed to take it forward. In particular, work needs to be done to develop the skills and knowledge needed to install and maintain renewable energy systems.”

 

The study also found that Libya has the potential to generate significant amounts of wind power, as the country is exposed to dry, hot and prolonged gusts.

 

“Wind energy could play an important role in the future in meeting the total electric energy demand,” added Ahmed Mohamed, a Nottingham Trent University PhD student, from Libya, who worked on the project.

 

“Several locations, including a number along the coast, experience high wind speeds which last for long periods of time.

 

“If Libya could harness only a tiny fraction of the renewable energy resources it has available in the form of solar and wind power, not only could it meet its own demands for energy, but also a significant part of the world’s demands by exporting electricity.

 

“The availability of renewable energy could provide a good complement to meet peak loads and current energy demand, and this in turn can be a good reason for encouraging wind and solar energy projects in Libya.”

 

Dr Hafez Abdo, a senior lecturer in accounting at Nottingham Business School, who also supervised the study, added: “This study tackles a significant emerging issue that is related to the feasibility of implementing renewable energy options in an oil and gas rich country such as Libya. The study explores whether the benefits outstrip the costs of implementing these options, and if not then when this would be likely to happen.

 

“This study can be applied to other countries such as the UK as an oil producing country and Japan, for example, as a net oil and gas importer country. The significance of this study arises from the fact that the final results should be a stepping stone for other studies to find a sufficient solution to energy security and climate change in the world.”

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March Toward Economic Freedom Stalls With Only Two Regions Improving, 19th Index Of Economic Freedom Shows

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Africa Business

Hong Kong and Singapore top Index; United States remains 10th

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — “The global advance toward economic freedom has ground to a halt,” according to the editors of the 19th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released today by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

The world average score of 59.6 was only one-tenth of a point above the 2012 average. Since reaching a global peak in 2008, the editors note, economic freedom has continued to stagnate. The overall trend for last year, however, was positive: Among the 177 countries ranked in the 2013 Index, scores improved for 91 countries and declined for 78.

On the plus side, average government spending scores improved. Unfortunately, this was matched by a decline in regulatory efficiency, as a number of countries hiked minimum wages and tightened control of labor markets.

Hong Kong and Singapore finished first and second in the rankings for the 19th straight year. Australiaand New Zealand ranked third and fourth, and Switzerland fifth. Canada finished sixth, despite slipping a half point, while Chile took seventh place and moved more than half a point toward greater economic freedom. Mauritius, the only Sub-Saharan country to rank among the top 10, was eighth with an overall score of 76.9. Denmark finished ninth, just ahead of the United States, which remains in tenth.

The Most Free The Least Free
1. Hong Kong  

168. Iran

2. Singapore 171. Turkmenistan
3. Australia 170. Equatorial Guinea
4. New Zealand 171. D.R. of Congo
5. Switzerland 172. Burma
6. Canada 173. Eritrea
7. Chile 174. Venezuela
8. Mauritius 175. Zimbabwe
9. Denmark 176. Cuba
10. United States 177. North Korea

Launched in 1995, the Index evaluates countries in four broad areas of economic freedom: rule of law; regulatory efficiency; limited government; and open markets. Based on an aggregate score, each of 177 countries graded in the 2013 Index was classified as “free” (i.e. combined scores of 80 or higher); “mostly free” (70-79.9); “moderately free” (60-69.9); “mostly unfree” (50-59.9); or “repressed” (under 50).

There are 10 specific categories: property rights, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, government spending, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom. Scores in these categories are averaged to create an overall score.

The world’s most-improved country is Georgia, which saw its score rise 2.8 points, giving it an overall score of 72.2 and a place among the world’s “mostly free” economies. Although Zimbabwe continues to rank among the least free of the 177 countries rated, it once again showed one of the biggest gains in economic freedom. Belize’s Index score declined the most, plunging nearly five points to 57.3.

The Index also studies economic freedom on a regional basis. In the 2013 Index, only Europe and North America advanced. Economic freedom in the other regions — South and Central America/Caribbean, Middle-East/North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific — declined or remained largely unchanged.

The Asia-Pacific region dominates both the top and the bottom of the rankings. Hong Kong, Singapore, Australiaand New Zealand finished 1-2-3-4 respectively worldwide. North Koreais ranked last in the world and Burma, the Solomon Islands, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Timor-Leste all rank 160th or worse.

Europe, the second-freest region and the world’s most improved, narrowed the gap with North America in the 2013 Index. The scores of 32 countries improved, while just nine lost economic freedom. Switzerland continues to be the only “free” economy in the region, which has only two “repressed” economies that score below 50: Ukraine and Belarus.

Five European countries had notable changes in status: Georgia, Norwayand the Czech Republic became “mostly free” economies. Cyprus dropped 2.8 points into the “moderately free” category, while Italyregained that status. Estoniaand Polandalso were among the world’s 10 most improved.

North America continues to be the world’s freest region, though Mexico was the only economy that improved its Index score over the last year. The region boasts two “mostly free” economies (Canada and the United States) and one “moderately free” economy (Mexico). It leads the world in terms of rule of law, regulatory efficiency and open markets, but is getting worse where government spending is concerned.

South and Central America/Caribbean experienced the sharpest drop — a 0.6-point loss. All but nine countries in scored as “mostly unfree” or “moderately free.” Five countries changed status over the year. Bolivia and Haitidropped from “mostly unfree” to “repressed.” Belize and the Dominican Republic fell from “moderately free” to “mostly unfree.” The Bahamas stood out as the only country in the region to improve in classification, becoming “mostly free.”  Economic freedom continued to decline last year in the Middle East/North Africa region. The region’s 0.3-point loss likely would have been greater had grading been possible for Libya and Syria, the editors note. Bahrain remained the region’s top performer in the Index by gaining 0.3 points, and defended its spot at No.12 in the world with an overall score of 75.5 points. Egypt lost 3.1 points, leaving it tied for the third-largest decline in the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s overall level of economic freedom “remains weaker than that of any other region,” the Index editors write. A majority of nations in this region either fall into the Index‘s “mostly unfree” or “repressed” categories. Indeed, 15 of the world’s 33 repressed economies are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 22 are in the next lowest, “mostly unfree.”

The 2013 Index was edited by Ambassador Terry Miller , director of Heritage’s Center for International Trade and Economics; Kim Holmes , Ph.D., Heritage’s Distinguished Fellow; and Edwin J. Feulner , Ph.D., Heritage’s president. Copies of the Index (494 pages, $24.95) may be ordered online at www.heritage.org/indexor by calling 1-800-975-8625. The full text, including charts and graphs, also is available online.

About The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with more than 710,000 individual, foundation and corporate donors. Founded in 1973, Heritage develops public policy solutions that advance free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values and a strong national defense.

SOURCE The Heritage Foundation

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Ethiopia’s Tekeda Alemu Feigns Concern over Djibouti-Eritrea Relations

Posted on 05 January 2013 by Africa Business

Sophia Tesfamariam

 

It is rather interesting that Tekeda Alemu would today feign concern and call on Eritrea to show a “pacific disposition” towards Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia[i].  As this author recalls, it was Tekeda Alemu that asked the US to break the otherwise amicable and neighborly Djibouti-Eritrea relations. How can Eritrea have a “pacific disposition” to Ethiopia when for over a decade Ethiopia has been occupying its sovereign territories in violation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions, international law, the United Nations and African Union Charters? As for Somalia, no one tried harder to “isolate” Eritrea from playing any meaningful role in Somalia than did the regime in Ethiopia and its handlers. Now that they have managed to create an intractable desperate situation in a dismembered and weak Somalia, don’t expect Eritrea to burn in that self created quagmire. Allow me to remind the good Ambassador of a few facts about Djibouti-Eritrea relations.

In 2006, Djibouti-Eritrea relations were improving steadily even as the situation in Somalia was taking a turn for the worse. A 14 September 2006 cable[ii] from the Embassy of France reports on a September 7-8 meetings with U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti W. Stuart Symington and French officials, Helene Le Gal and desk officer Francois Gautier; President Chirac’s Africa Advisor Michel de Bonnecorse and his deputy Jacques Champagne de Labriolle. According to the cable:

“…Djibouti had managed to maintain a balanced relationship with Ethiopia and Eritrea… The French noted that the possibility of social unrest existed in Djibouti, in part because income from the bases was not necessarily being distributed broadly…The widespread use of khat, a stimulant imported mainly from Ethiopia, was a significant factor in Djiboutian society. It had generally negative effects on the political process and economy. Social unrest was always possible when supplies of khat dwindled…Increasing numbers of Somalis, Eritreans, and Ethiopians were in Djibouti, attracted by Djibouti’s port and the illusion that it would always provide more jobs, which was not the case. Ethnic tensions were growing in Djibouti…”

In mid October 2006, when the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the East Sudan Front signed the historic peace agreement in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, Djibouti’s President Ismail Guelleh was present and Djibouti-Eritrea relations were good. The author traveled to the Djibouti-Eritrea border in 2007 and there were no problems between the two brotherly nations and the relationship was developing on several fronts.

Djibouti was opposed to military intervention in Somalia and did not support IGASOM, the proposed IGAD peacekeeping mission. Ethiopia decided to use the US to pressure Djibouti to come on board. Ethiopia also wanted Djibouti to sever its brotherly relations with Eritrea and as we shall see later, it also provided the “faulty intelligence” to inflame the President of Djibouti in mid 2009 and coerce him into asking for sanctions against Eritrea. US and Ethiopia encouraged Djibouti to escalate the already resolved border issue (according to the French Foreign Ministry). With the help of Susan E. Rice and others in the US Administration pushed for “stand alone for sanctions against Eritrea”.  Suffice it to mention a few key cables that illustrate Ethiopia and US deliberate escalation of a non-existent Djibouti-Eritrea issue and complicating its peaceful resolution.

1.      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.

Ethiopia and its myopic handlers sought to isolate Eritrea and prevent Eritrea from having any role in Somalia. They accused Eritrea of supporting Al Shabbab and labeled Eritrea a “spoiler”.  The election of President Barack Obama brought Meles Zenawi’s “skirted friends” to the new US Administration. One of them was Susan E. Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and the record will show her role in escalating the Djibouti-Eritrea conflict in her aggressive quest to get sanctions against the State of Eritrea. Suffice it to present a brief chronology of events:

According to the American Embassy cables, the Djibouti-Eritrea issue was presented to the Americans in early April 2008. According to a 17 April 2008 cable[iii] reporting on James Knight’s visit to the region, Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf delivered the protest. According to the cable:

 

“…GODJ had, on April 15, protested Eritrean military presence at Doumeira, on the Djibouti-Eritrea border. He said that the Eritrean military had set up several tents “well into” Djiboutian territory…”

 

The 17 April 2008 cable also stated the following

“…Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf contacted Charge on the afternoon of April 17 to protest what he characterized as an escalation by Eritrea, and to urge that the USG and France use its good offices to raise concern with the Eritrean government (GSE). FM Youssouf said he was informing the USG and France of the following…According to FM Youssouf, some 20-25 Eritrean troops were manning the post, which he asserted was on Djiboutian territory… Furthermore, the Eritrean ambassador had reportedly stated that the GSE was “upset with U.S. military maneuvers with Djibouti”, and that the USG was seeking to destabilize Eritrea… FM Youssouf first raised concern about the Eritrean military post on Djiboutian territory in an April 16 meeting with AF/E Director James Knight…”

The cable also noted:

“…French Ambassador to Djibouti Dominique Decherf said that while he had to take note of the assertions by Djibouti’s Foreign Minister, French military observers in the field had not/not seen any concentration of Eritrean troops along the border with Djibouti. He said French fixed-wing aircraft dispatched to the area on April 17 “did not see anything conclusive,” and did not/not see massive troop concentrations along the border…”

For some reason, the Djibouti Foreign Minister was hell bent on escalating the issue and internationalizing it. Djibouti decided to complain to the UN Security Council and with the help of the US Mission addressed the Security Council. Eritrea chose to handle the issue quietly and bilaterally, but Djibouti was being advised to make a lot of noise and it did. During one of its many visits to Turtle Bay, Inner-city Press in its report[iv] revealed inconsistencies in Djibouti’s account of events. Here is an excerpt from that report:

“…Inner City Press asked Minister Youssouf about Eritrea’s claim that French helicopters landed on or near its territory, and that an Eritrean speedboat was recently sunk, allegedly by non-Djiboutian forces. To his credit, Youssouf did not dodge these questions… He acknowledged that a French helicopter had carried him, his President and Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita to the disputed area, so they could see for themselves. He agreed that an Eritrean speedboat was recently sunk, but said that Djibouti itself has been responsible. He said that a Velo-bound, hundred-some page pamphlet prepared for submission to the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon contained proof and even photos of all this…”

Hundred-page pamphlet? Let us see what Inner-city reported next:

“…Inner City Press obtained a copy of the pamphlet, which strangely is dated February 2008, before the conflict at issue…”

So who prepared the pamphlet and why was it dated before the conflict? Judging from the events that have occurred since, it is not hard to decipher who the culprits are. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister may have been a willing victim (desperate to please the US), but I doubt that it was Djibouti’s creation.

In addition, the Djibouti delegation always made its presentations in French, but on the issue of Eritrea it read from a prepared English statement. Why was that and who prepared the Statement used by the Djiboutians? Anyway let us move on…

US bias against Eritrea was evident from day one. The cable[v] issued on 20 April 2008 shows that Eric Wong, the US Charge D’Affaires in Djibouti had accepted the Djibouti Foreign Minister’s account and was already blaming Eritrea without ever providing any evidence for the allegations being made. Here is a comment that was added at the end of the cable and it clearly shows that the US was using the Djibouti issue to punish Eritrea for what it perceived as being Eritrea’s “intransigence” on the UNMEE issue:

 

“…FM Youssouf noted that no public statements from the USG were needed yet, as Djibouti sought to press Eritrea through “quiet diplomacy.” Should these talks fail, however, the international community will have to weigh what actions, if any, would be effective in reversing the Eritrean incursion. The recent withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces from the Temporary Security Zone, following more than two years of increasing restrictions on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), highlight the GSE’s intransigence in the face of international pressure…”

US officials, including those at the UN appear to be applying double standards when it comes to Eritrea. The UN Security Council had remained silent for the last 10 years as Ethiopia occupied sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, with US acquiescence and support.  Exaggerating the Djibouti-Eritrea issue and trying to divert attentions away from Ethiopia’s intransigence, the UN US mission stated the following:

“…there can be no link between the crisis on the border between Djibouti and Eritrea and the Ethiopia-Eritrea border impasse. Eritrea cannot be allowed to use its invasion of its sovereign and peaceful neighbor to affect settlement of another dispute…”

It was agreed that Eritrea would not be allowed to raise the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue, yet the same officials had no qualms about raising the issue of UNMEE in order to make their case against Eritrea and what they consider to be Eritrea’s affront on the authority of the Security Council. If the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue is unrelated to the Djibouti-Eritrea issue, then why mention UNMEE in relation to the Djibouti-Eritrea issue?

With the gullible western media in tow, the orchestrated vilification of Eritrea began with this 20 April 2008 report from AFP[vi] which said:

 

“…Eritrean soldiers made an incursion into Djibouti territory two or three days ago in the Ras Doumeira area,” an official who did not want to be identified said in a telephone interview…A military source said French forces based in Djibouti had carried out a reconnaissance on Thursday at the government’s request but had not been able to confirm an incursion…”

Reuters, in its 22 April 2008 news with a glaring headline, “UN council angered at Eritrea over border force” reported a threat made by Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations:

“…U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff said there was “a mood in the council of great, great dissatisfaction at the manner in which Eritrea has handled this,” and accused the Eritreans of “shooting themselves in the foot…In the long term Eritrea will pay a big price for this misjudgment,” he told reporters, without elaborating…”

In May 2008, as far as the French were concerned, the situation between Djibouti and Eritrea was resolved and did not need to be “internationalized”. A 2 May 2008 cable[vii], “Djibouti/Eritrea: Mfa Says Not to Internationalize Border Incursion”, reported the following:

 

“…Helene Le Gal said on May 2 that the French were not in favor of Djibouti’s bringing Eritrea’s recent border incursion before the African Union, Arab League, or UN Security Council, despite the fact that the Arab League is going to discuss the matter on May 4. She said that doing so would only create tensions over an issue that had already been resolved, de facto, by Eritrea’s withdrawal from Djiboutian territory. Le Gal confirmed that France had been supplying air reconnaissance imagery to Djibouti, and that this imagery originally showed a slight but definite incursion by Eritrean forces into Djibouti. The Eritreans used earth-moving equipment to dig a trench in Djiboutian territory. However, subsequent imagery, “which is very precise,” showed that the Eritreans had withdrawn….”

The cable goes on:

“…Le Gal added that Eritrean military units remained near the border, confronted by some 1,000 Djiboutian troops (two-thirds of all of Djibouti’s military, Le Gal said). In these circumstances, which could well indicate that the Eritreans had mistakenly advanced into Djiboutian territory, Djibouti would have little to gain by raising this incursion at an international level.

But Djibouti insisted on blowing the issue out of proportion and insisted on the US helping it “internationalize” the issue and proceeded to condemn Eritrea in the media and through the UN Security Council.

On 12 May 2008, France’s position on the issue remained the same. A cable[viii] from the US Embassy in Paris reported the following:

 

“…Le Gal said the Djiboutians had been phoning her “three times a day” and that her message to them was to avoid raising tensions in the region over an incident that had resolved itself peacefully. She repeated that, while Ethiopia’s border dispute with Eritrea was long-standing, there appeared to be no historical basis for a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, which was another reason that both sides should avoid turning this episode into a real problem…”

On 27 May 2008, USLO-Djibouti Chief accompanied two staff directors from the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) on a site visit of the disputed Djibouti-Eritrea border at Ras Doumeira on May 27. According to the cable, “DJIBOUTI-ERITREA: U.S. OFFICERS VISIT RAS DOUMEIRA”[ix], the USLO Chief was invited to attend by MAJ Youssef Abdullah, the Djiboutian liaison officer to CJTF-HOA. The party traveled via Djibouti Air Force fixed-wing aircraft to Moulhoule (the site of the Djibouti Army command post), received a briefing, and then proceeded by ground to the border site, approximately 15K to the north. The cable also stated that all “U.S. military personnel were in civilian clothes”

 

“…The military situation at Ras Doumeira appears largely static, with neither side willing to back off the ridgeline. As reported earlier (ref A), the Eritrean military presence has also extended to DoumeiraIsland, claimed by Djibouti as wholly Djiboutian territory. The most likely scenario for an escalation to violence may be tensions related to the issue of Eritrean deserters and defectors fleeing to Djibouti. Another potential flashpoint is the continued construction by Eritrean troops of fortifications on Ras Doumeira, using heavy machinery (such as bulldozers). Neither side is well-supplied, but both seem committed to maintaining their positions. Post strongly urges public statements in international fora in support of Djibouti, and in support of seeking a peaceful resolution to reverse Eritrea’s militarization of the Bab-al-Mandeb strait…”

The US State Department upon recommendation from its Embassy in Djibouti obliged and on 11 June 2008, the US State Department issued a statement[x] on the Djibouti-Eritrea border condemning Eritrea. The Statement said:

“…The United States condemns Eritrea’s military aggression against Djibouti in the vicinity of the border between the two countries at Ras Doumeira. These hostilities represent an additional threat to peace and security in the already volatile Horn of Africa. We understand that at least nine Djiboutians have been killed and over 60 injured as a result of the Eritrean attacks…We call on both sides to cease all military hostilities immediately and to reduce tensions by withdrawing troops from the border area. The United States calls on Eritrea and Djibouti to move forward at once to resolve border issues peacefully, in accordance with international law, and for Eritrea to accept offers of third party mediation in this regard…”

AFP reporting from Djibouti on 12 June 2008[xi] conveyed the sentiments of US officials at the UN who had already decided that Eritrea was at fault:

 

“…The UN Security Council on Thursday expressed its concern over recent clashes on the border between Eritrea and Djibouti, even as Washington accused Asmara of inflaming tensions…Council members “express their deep concern with the situation and reported violence between Eritrea and Djibouti forces and call on both parties to exercise maximum restrain,” said the council president for June, US deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff…Wolff – speaking as the US representative, and not as the Security Council head – then blamed Eritrea for causing trouble…”

A November 2008 cable, “Djibouti: Senator Feingold Discusses Region, Security, And Good Governance with Godj”[xii], sheds some light into the psyche of the Djiboutian leaders and their American interlocutors. On December 18-21 visit to the region and Djibouti; Senator Feingold discussed Djibouti, Somalia, and regional concerns with Djiboutian officials. President Guelleh, Foreign Minister Youssouf shared their insights with the visiting US Senator. On the Djibouti-Eritrea issue, according to the cable:

 

“…Guelleh told the Senator that there had previously been “good relations” between Djibouti and Eritrea, and said that he attributed the June flare-up at the border to three factors: 1) Eritrea’s misguided perception that the U.S. military presence in Djibouti threatened Eritrea; 2) Eritrean concerns that Djibouti’s helpful involvement in orchestrating Djibouti Process talks between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) was harmful to Eritrean interests; and 3) Economic rivalry linked to the announcement of an ambitious project to build a bridge between Djibouti and Yemen, to include construction of a new economic hub city at the bridge’s terminus in Djibouti in the vicinity of Moulhoule, near the Djibouti-Eritrea border…”

It is really sad to read such childish and myopic statements from these so-called leaders. Parroting Ethiopia’s spills only shows how shamefully emasculated they have become.

There is more. This time it is from the Djiboutian Foreign Minister and this is what the cable reported:

“…Youssouf agreed that Eritrea might have been motivated by jealousy over the Port of Djibouti’s economic success as Ethiopia’s main lifeline to the sea, a false fear that the U.S. was using Djibouti as a “Trojan horse” to conspire with Ethiopia against Eritrea, and a desire to thwart the TFG-ARS Djibouti Process…”

A 15 January 2009 cable[xiii] shows the close coordination between the US and Djibouti and the agenda vis a vis Eritrea.

 

“…Foreign Minister Mahmoud Youssouf called Ambassador January 15 to express thanks for UNSCR 1862 regarding the Djibouti/Eritrea border dispute. Youssouf said the GODJ was pleased with the outcome. Ambassador responded that we, too, thought it was a strong resolution — one that had resulted from a collaborative effort, including close consultation with Djiboutian PermRep Roble Olhaye. Separately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs circulated the text of UNSCR 1862 via diplomatic note to all foreign missions in Djibouti, highlighting that “the Security Council placed responsibility for the aggression on Eritrea and demanded that it withdraw its troops from Ras Doumeira and DoumeiraIsland within five weeks.” Admitting it was unlikely that the GSE would respond positively to the resolution, the Foreign Minister commented that the GODJ must now begin to develop a strategy for “the next stage,” after the five-week deadline has elapsed. This is a point that Embassy Djibouti has made repeatedly over the past two monts to senior GODJ contacts, including Youssouf, National Security Advisor Hassan Said Khaireh, and Presidency Secretary General Ismail Tani. Ambassador offered to work closely with Youssouf as the GODJ develops its strategy…”

In March 2009, the US Ambassador to Djibouti visited the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The US Embassy in Djibouti posted the following on its website:

 

“…The Ambassador of the United States of America to Djibouti, H.E. Mr. James C. Swan has made a courtesy visit to the office of the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Eng. Mahboub Maalim…”

In early April 2009, although the Djibouti-Eritrea situation had remained “static”, in violation of Eritrea’s rights to resolve its dispute with Djibouti in a manner of its choice, the US insisted on pushing for Security Council action against Eritrea. According to the cable:

 

“…In a brief Security Council session on April 7, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe described developments in the ongoing border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti. Council members voiced unanimous support for the Secretary-General’s good offices efforts but only Costa Rica seconded the U.S. in pressing the Council to consider future action should Eritrea continue to fail to comply with UNSC resolution 1863… Amb. DiCarlo said that Eritrea’s contempt for the Council’s authority must not be allowed to set the agenda, and stressed that the Council would need to consider its options for future action should Eritrea continue to fail to comply with its obligations…”

A 4 May 2009 cable[xiv] shows that the US was behind the push to adopt UN Security Council Resolution 1862 in 2008. According to the cable authored by James Swan, the US Ambassador to Djibouti:

 

“…the U.S. had worked closely with the GODJ and PermRep Robleh Olhaye on the UNSC Presidential Statement of June 12, 2008 and on UNSCR 1862, both of which were highly favorable to the GODJ… On Eritrea, we recommend consultations through State/AF and USUN with Djiboutian PermRep Roble Olhaye — double-tracked by Embassy Djibouti with Foreign Minister Youssouf — to develop a coordinated diplomatic strategy to mobilize UNSC members to apply greater pressure to Eritrea to implement UNSCR 1862. Measures could include targeted sanctions aimed at travel by GSE leadership and at financial transactions involving parastatal enterprises and firms affiliated with the GSE ruling party…”

James Swan’s pro-Ethiopia stance is well established. Frequent visits by Ethiopia’s lobbyists to his office at the Bureau of African Affairs are also well recorded. So it comes as no surprise that he would be pushing to strangulate Eritrea’s economy without any just cause.

An excerpt from the 29 May 2009 Wikileak cable, “Djiboutian Fm Reports IGAD Seeks More Aggressive Mandate for Amisom”, shows Ethiopia as being behind Djibouti’s anxiety and need for further action at the UN. Here is an excerpt from that cable:

 

“…According to Youssouf, on May 25, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin had raised with Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula the need for a concerted approach by IGAD members to the AU and to the UN Security Council, in support of such measures, as well as the need to apply greater pressure on Eritrea… Eritrea also continued to seek to destabilize Djibouti, Youssouf said. He reported that Ethiopian FM Seyoum had informed him on May 24 of Ethiopian intelligence that more than 200 rebel fighters (presumably ethnic Afars), who had been trained in Eritrea, had infiltrated Djibouti via Ras Doumeira-which has been occupied continuously by Eritrean troops since at least March 2008. Youssouf said Djibouti responded to the report by putting Djiboutian troops on alert, and activating additional forces along the border with Eritrea…”

How can Ethiopia provide information on these “rebels” when Ethiopia does not even have borders with Eritrea at Ras Doumeira? So what happened to those troops? Or did they vanish like the “2000 Eritrean forces fighting alongside the UIC” did in 2006?

Of course the minority regime’s modus operandi is always the same…repeat the accusations as many times to as many people as possible (preferably Americans and Europeans) and Meles Zenawi did not disappoint as this cable illustrates, he repeated the same spill to Johnnie Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs:

“…Meles cautioned A/S Carson about Eritrea’s efforts to recruit and train Afari rebels and infiltrate them into Djibouti to undermine Djiboutian authority and create instability through terrorism and military action. If Eritrea succeeds in destabilizing Djibouti, it would destabilize the region and add to Ethiopia’s insecurity along the border. With a sizable Afari population in Ethiopia, Eritrea’s activities would also directly contribute to creating potential instability within Ethiopia…”

Susan E. Rice’s visit to Ethiopia on 19 May 2009 and her six-hour long tete a tete with Meles Zenawi, her close friend and confidante that the aggressive push to sanction Eritrea began in earnest. With Ethiopia chairing both bodies IGAD on 21 May 2009 and AU on 22 May 2009 adopted resolutions calling from sanctions against Eritrea. The US-Ethiopian initiative would be cloaked with an “African Face”.

The 13 June 2009 cable[xv] shows the collaboration between Tekeda Alemu and Susan Rice and their intentions to hoodwink Africans and the Security Council by presenting their initiative as an “African Initiative”:

“…A delegation from the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) met with Amb. Rice on June 10 to press for UNSC implementation of sanctions against Eritrea as called for by recent communiques of IGAD and the African Union (AU). The delegation, led by Ethiopian State Minister Tekeda Alemu and Somali Foreign Minister Mohammed Omaar, agreed that action needed to be taken against Eritrea. Omaar told Amb. Rice that IGAD was only asking for a relatively minor sanctions regime, a travel ban, and asset freeze to give a political signal from the Council as a warning to Eritrea, while Tekeda said that the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) could imminently collapse if the Council did not act more forcefully. Rice told the group that the U.S. was still evaluating the IGAD proposal, and advised them to present a united African front to the Council…”

Today, Tekeda Alemu wants to defend Susan Rice and extricate her from Horn issues, but he didn’t think about that while he and other TPLF cadres were using her in their plot against the State of Eritrea. Even though Rice claimed that it was an “African Initiative”, it is the Ethiopian cadres that are calling the shots and advising her on actions against Eritrea. Let us take a look at what else the cable aid:

“…Tekeda made a case for more forceful sanctions, claiming that the TFG faced imminent collapse, and implying that only Ethiopian assistance had helped it survive thus far. (NOTE: While Omaar was titular head of the IGAD delegation, Tekeda paid him little deference. End note.) In Ethiopia’s view, Tekeda said, “we don’t have much time” to enact sanctions against Eritrea, adding “we want to see results within a week.” (C) Amb. Rice advised the group to reach agreement on a specific package of measures and counseled that the initiative would be more viable in the Council, if packaged as an African consensus proposal rather than one driven by Eritrea’s estranged neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti…Rice also urged the group to draw a link to the situation in Djibouti when drawing up its proposal to sanction Eritrea…”

In September 2009, Ambassador Susan Rice, now personally and deeply involved in the push for sanctions against Eritrea accused Eritrea of “invading neighbors with impunity”[xvi] . The cable, “UGANDA TO CONSIDER ERITREA SANCTIONS RESOLUTION WHICH COVERS DJIBOUTI; REMAINS COMMITTED TO AMISOM”, details a conversation Susan Rice had on 20 September 2009 Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda:

 

“…Rice emphasized that the U.S. strongly supports a resolution addresses the issue of Eritrea invading Djibouti. It is a matter of principle that the U.S. cannot ignore, which puts UNSC credibility at stake, and would make Eritrea feel it can continue to invade neighbors with impunity, she said. Museveni expressed concern that references to both Somalia and Djibouti in the draft UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions resolution might jeopardize its adoption chances. Rice said that she believes there is only one chance to secure a resolution, so Djibouti must be included, and noted that the international community has never effectively confronted Eritrea for invading neighboring countries on five occasions (Yemen, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia). She noted that in January, the UNSC gave Eritrea a deadline of six weeks to leave Djibouti or face sanctions…”

Rice was not interested in providing evidence to support her allegations against Eritrea and her remarks about the members of the UN Security Council shows her that she was willing to deceive the Council to advance her agenda:

“…Rice reminded Museveni that past experience suggested that the UNSC would not block a resolution led by African members and supported by the African Union. She shared the U.S. read that, if Burkina Faso and Uganda co-sponsor this resolution, the British will support, the French will “keep their heads down” and will not block. FM Kutesa noted that Uganda had no substantive concerns over including Djibouti in the resolution. His concern, he said, was that because the AU had never passed an actual resolution that included Djibouti, the Russian and Chinese delegations would have to consult with their capitals before agreeing to it. Rice advised Kutesa not to be overly cautious, and reasserted that a resolution perceived to be African-led would not fail. She noted that, if it became clear during consultations that Russia and China had insurmountable concerns about including Djibouti, they could be dealt with before the issue came to vote…”

James Swan, the US Ambassador in Djibouti, was only happy to report of the “effusive” gratitude the Djiboutian leaders showed for US Government help in getting sanctions against the State of Eritrea. The US Ambassador reported the following in the cable[xvii]:

“…The GODJ is pleased with UNSCR 1907 and takes pride in its diplomatic success in securing sanctions against Eritrea…”

This author asks once again…How does servitude translate into diplomatic success? How does whining and crying foul in order to appease Meles Zenawi and his thugs become diplomatic success? Obviously, Swan holds Africans to a lower standard as he would not have called it “diplomacy” if any European had done what these lawless regimes did to one of their own. He would have rightly called it treachery, as that is what it was, from the beginning to the end.

So Tekeda Alemu can stop the hypocrisy. The Djibouti-Eritrea issue was a fabrication of Ethiopia and its handlers. If Djibouti really wants to resolve its issues with Eritrea today, it can. Both Eritrea and Djibouti agreed to Qatari mediation, so why not let them work it out without further interference? After all, the two nations were doing well until he personally asked the US officials in Ethiopia to help break up the friendship…

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


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