Tag Archives: EU

Ethiopia: Borrell welcomes opposition leaders release

Brussels 10.01.2022 “The release of some political opposition leaders and the establishment of the National Dialogue Commission are positive steps towards ending the ongoing conflict in Northern Ethiopia. The European Union has always stressed that the only option for a peaceful and long lasting solution is an independent, comprehensive and inclusive National Dialogue that leaves no one behind” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) on the latest developments.

“However, despite these positive steps, the conflict continues, including an airstrike today hitting a camp for internally displaced people killing and wounding many civilians. Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access must be allowed to save lives, as no trucks carrying humanitarian assistance has entered Tigray since mid-December”.

“All parties must seize the moment to swiftly end the conflict and enter into dialogue. The EU stands ready to work with the African Union, the United Nations, and other international partners to support this process”.

EU additional €15M aid to Sahel

Brussels 23.12.2021 The EU has allocated €15 million in additional humanitarian funding to Africa’s Sahel region, in response to the unprecedented food crisis affecting more than 8.7 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said “Earlier this year, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to the Sahel region, and reiterated the importance of our partnership with the region. The additional humanitarian aid allocated today is an indication of our readiness to help meet the growing needs – and funding shortfalls – in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and provide assistance to the most vulnerable members of the population in the Sahel.”

The number of people suffering from the food crisis in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Mauritania is at a record high compared to previous years and initial estimates point to a major food crisis during the 2022 lean season, the period between harvests that usually lasts from May to August. The World Food Programme (WFP) reports critical funding gaps affecting its ability to assist people during the lean season in the Sahel.

The funding announced today comes on top of €54 million already allocated this year to these four Sahel countries for food/nutrition. The additional funds allocated by the EU will contribute to scaling up life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable people in need, mainly people affected by conflict and insecurity and those forced to flee their homes. This funding will address most acute needs in food and nutrition and will contribute to an early response to reduce the impact of a major humanitarian crisis in 2022.

Humanitarian needs in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria) are rising due to increasingly violent conflicts, deep poverty, climate change, and unprecedented food insecurity and malnutrition. In addition to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, weak health systems are increasingly strained, and humanitarian needs are growing.

In 2021, the EU allocated a total of €237.4 million to the Sahel. Part of this funding has been used to help tackle the food crisis in the region, now in its fourth consecutive year, mainly affecting people in conflict-hit areas. EU humanitarian assistance supports people affected by conflict and insecurity, providing them with shelter, emergency food and nutritional aid, access to health care and clean water, to treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable. In addition, EU funding ensures safe access to education for the children affected by armed conflicts.

In 2021, prior to the allocation of this additional funding, the funding allocated to these four countries for food/nutrition was:

– Burkina Faso:€19.7 million

– Mali:€15 million

– Mauritania:€6.9 million

– Niger:€12.3 million

Ethiopia: UN Human Rights commission

Brussels 18.12.2021 Following a resolution presented by the European Union the United Nations Human Rights Council will establish an international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia. An important step forward to ensure accountability of the perpetrators and justice for the victims” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

A joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Human Rights Office has found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a report published on December 3, which examines the devastating impact the conflict has had on civilians, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) details a series of violations and abuses, including unlawful killings and extra-judicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees, and forced displacement of civilians.

The report covers the period from 3 November 2020, when the armed conflict began between the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Special Forces (ASF), the Amhara Fano and other militias on one side, and the Tigrayan Special Forces (TSF), Tigrayan militia and other allied groups on the other, until 28 June 2021 when the Ethiopian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire.

The JIT visited several locations, including Mekelle, Eastern Tigray (Wukro), Southeastern Tigray (Samre and nearby areas), Southern Tigray ( Alamata, Bora and Maichew), Western Tigray (Dansha, Humera and Mai Kadra), and Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara region, as well as Addis Ababa. The JIT conducted 269 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses of alleged violations and abuses, and other sources; and held over 60 meetings with federal and regional officials, representatives of international organisations, NGOs, community-based committees, medical personnel, and other sources.

The JIT faced several security, operational, and administrative challenges in carrying out its work, in particular being unable to carry out all planned visits to parts of Tigray. The report acknowledges with gratitude the many victims and witnesses who shared their experiences with the JIT, and thanks the Ethiopian and non-governmental entities for their cooperation.

“As the conflict expands with more reports of violations and abuses, this report presents an opportunity for all parties to acknowledge responsibility and commit to concrete measures on accountability, redress for victims and the search for a sustainable solution to end the suffering of millions,” said Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the EHRC. “EHRC remains engaged in monitoring the human rights situation since end of June and will be sharing its findings in due course,” Bekele said.

“The Tigray conflict has been marked by extreme brutality. The gravity and seriousness of the violations and abuses we have documented underscore the need to hold perpetrators accountable on all sides,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“As the conflict has escalated, with civilians as ever caught in the middle, it is vital that all parties heed the repeated calls to end hostilities and seek a lasting ceasefire,” said Bachelet, who is today also issuing a separate update on developments since the June cut-off date of the joint report.

Ghana President addresses Europarliament

Strasbourg 15.12.2021 President Nana Akufo-Addo called for a more equal trade relationship with Europe that would empower African countries to build their economies and move beyond development aid. The Ghana leader addressed the Members of the European Parliament at the last calendar Plenary in Strasbourg on December 14.

During a formal sitting on Tuesday, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo expressed his hope that the EU and the African Union can work on a joint strategy and define a new partnership. African countries should not be just a receiver of help from Europe, but they should sit side by side at the decision making table as equals.

He stressed that investing in Africa and helping it develop its economy would bring huge export opportunities for European companies. “We need to rely on ourselves and get rid of the image of beggars living on charity, aid and handouts, and make better and more intelligent use of our abundant national resources to pull ourselves out of poverty and into prosperity”, said President Akufo-Addo.

Talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, President Akufo-Addo noted that Africa has been caught in “vicious vaccine politics”. While stressing that Africa is grateful for vaccine donations through systems such as Covax, he pointed to the “unsavoury politics of vaccine nationalism” that could restrict access and potentially derail efforts to contain the pandemic.

On the subject of migration, President Akufo-Addo said that instead of investing money in preventing migrants from coming from Africa to Europe, funding would be better spent in supporting the African economy and encouraging people to stay at home by offering them economic opportunity.

Omicron: AU calls to lift travel restrictions

Brussels 08.12.2021 The African Union called for an urgent end to travel restrictions imposed on some of its member states, saying the measures effectively penalise governments for timely data sharing in line with international health regulations.

The measures act “as a disincentive for information sharing in the future, potentially posing a threat to health security on the continent and globally,” the AU said in a statement.

Late last month, European Union states, the United States and Britain, among other nations such as Israel, imposed travel curbs on seven southern African countries after they reported several cases of the Omicron variant, which is considered highly infectious.

The Gambia: EU awaits EOM report

Brussels 08.12.2021 “The Gambia conducted Presidential elections on 4 December. The European Union welcomes the calm, peaceful, and transparent manner in which the elections were conducted. The high voter turnout shows the commitment of the Gambian people to the democratic path that they have taken since December 2016”.

“The EU expects all the candidates to act in good faith, and urges all to comply with the rule of law and to use the available legal procedures if they deem necessary to challenge election outcomes”.

“The EU deployed for the first time an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe a presidential election. The preliminary statement of the EU EOM issued on 6 December 2021 shows where reforms are needed. We look forward to its final report that will be made public at the end of the process, including recommendations for future electoral processes”.

The EU looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with The Gambia on the path of democratic reform and national reconciliation.

EU proposes ban on South Africa flights

Brussels 26.11.2021 Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa have caused new wave of travel restrictions in Italy and Germany on Friday, November 26, as Brussels demands the EU-wide flight restrictions. (Image: illustration).

The European Commission will propose to suspend air travel from southern Africa amid concerns over this particular variant, EC President Ursula Von der Leyen announced on Friday.

The proposal could be enacted in urgent procedures on Friday night, November 26.

Germany, Italy and France have already announced measures to restrict air travel from the region.

Rome has banned entry on its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa during fortnight, said health minister Roberto Speranza, invoking “maximum precaution” in the face of the new variant.

The countries targeted by this measure are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, the Minister has underlined.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, November 26, airlines coming from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens, meaning only repatriations will be possible.

South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant pandemic waves since the beginning. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of the mutations of the virus alike the one they have discovered now.

During a news briefing, South African genomic scientists said the variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein, which is the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

MEPs condemn Russia Wagner Group

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 The European Parliament adopted a resolution assessing human rights violations committed by the Russian paramilitary paramilitary Wagner Group.

MEPs condemn in the strongest terms the heinous crimes committed by the Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner Group and related private military entities in various conflict areas.

The Russian state appears to bear responsibility for the funding, training, management and operational command of these paramilitary groups, MEPs say, while pointing out that the Wagner Group’s activities correspond with the spread of Russia’s influence in conflict zones. The Wagner Group, and other Russian-led security contractors, should be treated as proxy organisations of the Russian state, MEPs insist.

The resolution notes that the Wagner Group is present in many conflicts around the world, notably in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. Given their track record of violations, MEPs welcome the statement made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on the imminent adoption of targeted EU sanctions against “relevant individuals and entities affiliated with the Wagner Group”, as well as individuals and entities working with them. They call for these sanctions to include travel bans and assets freezes on Wagner operatives.

In addition, the resolution urges all countries using the services of the Wagner Group and its affiliates, particularly the Central African Republic, to cut all ties with the group and its employees. It calls on the European Commission to ensure that EU funds cannot, under any circumstances, be used by recipient countries to fund private military companies with such terrible human rights records.

The text was adopted by 585 votes in favour, 40 against and 43 abstentions.

MEPs called for the matter of the activities of the Wagner Group and other private military companies in Africa to be thoroughly discussed during the upcoming EU-Africa Summit.

The Members of the Europarliament are of the opinion that strengthening EU training missions (EUTMs) would more effectively contribute to security sector reform in partner countries; is of the opinion that the swift implementation of the European Peace Facility, in full compliance with the Council Common Position on arms export controls.

Sudan: EU condemns violence

Brussels 14.10.2021 “With reference to the joint statement of the Troika, EU and Switzerland last Friday, November 12, the EU condemns in the strongest terms the violence perpetrated against peaceful civilian protestors on Saturday 13 November” reads the statement by the EU spokesperson on the latest developments in Sudan.

“We are also very worried about the detention of journalists. Freedom of expression, access to information and ability to communicate are part and parcel of the basic freedoms and universal human rights. We therefore continue to call for the release of all detainees including journalists arrested since 25 October.

“We will hold authorities accountable for violations of human rights and lack of protection of civilians, which has been induced since the end of the democratic transitional process.

“The EU calls upon the military to return to the path of a fair and open dialogue with civilians, as they have done in August 2019, and which has brought the country back into the light from a very dark time.

“The interventions by the military since 25 October last are undoing much of the progress achieved under the civilian-led government, in full respect of the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese population.

“This will have serious consequences for the support of the European Union. This is not what the people of Sudan deserve and demand. Only a return to an inclusive dialogue will guarantee freedom, peace and justice for all in Sudan”.

Sudan: Troika statement

Brussels 13.11.2021 “The Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, and Switzerland are gravely concerned by the purported appointment of Sudan’s Sovereign Council in violation of the 2019 Constitutional Declaration.

“This unilateral action by the military undermines its commitment to uphold the agreed transitional framework, which requires that civilian members of the Sovereign Council be nominated by the Forces for Freedom and Change, and complicates efforts to put Sudan’s democratic transition back on track. It runs contrary to the aspirations of the Sudanese people and the political and economic stability of the country.

“We strongly urge against further escalatory steps and again call for the immediate restoration of Prime Minister Hamdok and the civilian-led transitional government. We urge the immediate release of all those detained since October 25 and the lifting of the state of emergency to allow for genuine and constructive dialogue. We remind Sudan’s military leaders that they supported the end of authoritarian rule in 2019, and that international support is predicated on a successful democratic transition in line with the Constitutional Declaration. We urge an immediate and full return to this path to ensure that the hard­ won political and economic gains of the last two years are not lost.

“We also call on the security services to respect the rights of Sudanese citizens to freely express their views without fear of violence or detention.

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