Friday, December 19, 2014

Western firms reduce Eritrean miners to 'abject slavery', UK MPs say

Early day motion slams mining companies for using forced labour in collusion with repressive Eritrean government and adding to the country’s human exodus

Western mining companies operating in Eritrea are reducing workers to “abject slavery” at their mines and worsening a human exodus that is driving more than 5,000 people out of the country every month, a group of British MPs has said.

An early day motion, signed by 41 MPs, blasts Eritrea’s poor human rights record, condemning “arbitrary arrest and detention and compulsory military service” carried out by the government.

The bill “notes with concern the collusion between the government of Eritrea and the international mining companies from the UK, Canada and Australia, which is using the forced labour of Eritreans for work in extractive industries in conditions which have been described as abject slavery”.

MPs called on the Eritrean government to allow Sheila Keetharuth, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea, to travel to the country and assess claims of widespread rights violations. Keetharuth has not been allowed to enter the secretive country since her appointment in 2012.

Read more

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Denmark: Eritrea Immigration Report Deeply Flawed

(Brussels, December 17, 2014) – A Danish immigration report on Eritrea that suggests changing refugee policy for Eritrean asylum seekers is deeply flawed. Denmark and other European governments should await the outcome of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, established in June 2014, before considering any major policy changes concerning Eritrea.

The Danish report suggests that the Eritrean government may be carrying out reforms that would allow Eritrean asylum seekers fleeing Eritrea’s abusive, indefinite national conscription program to be safely returned to the country. The number of Eritrean asylum seekers and migrants fleeing Eritrea and arriving in Europe has surged in recent years. A very high rate of Eritrean asylum seekers are granted refugee status or some other protected status in Europe, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s statistics.

Read more

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ethiopia to expand energy, industry with Eurobond funds

Dec 16 (Reuters) - Ethiopia plans to expand industry, sugar factories and power production using proceeds from its oversubscribed debut Eurobond that raised $1 billion, the finance minister said on Tuesday.

Ethiopia is the latest African state to receive a strong response on its first foray into the international debt markets. Investors have been eyeing Africa's sturdy growth rates and Ethiopia's economy is now expanding by about 9 percent a year.

"This amount will be spent on industry zones planned for construction across the country soon. They will attract investment and generate foreign currency," Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed told reporters.

Offering cheap labour and power supply, as well as improving transport and other infrastructure, Ethiopia aims to be a hub for textiles and other industries by attracting investors who are moving some manufacturing plants from China and other Asian markets, where costs are rising.

Read more

Friday, December 12, 2014

Eritrea’s Struggle for Independence....

********Ethiopia is much better off without Eritrea, there is no question on it, it is like removing the cancer from part of your body!********

by Andre Vltchek / December 12th, 2014

Qohaito is a mysterious, ancient, pre-Aksumite settlement in the Eritrean highlands, with several impressive monolithic columns rising towards the sky. It is said that right there, under the surface, exists another entire lost city. As you walk, the earth shakes, and somewhere deep below; you can hear the echo of your footsteps.

Just a few minutes drive from the columns, the plateau suddenly ends. There is a cliff and a breathtaking view into the deep valley. This place is called Ishka. And this is where thousands of Eritrean freedom fighters and civilians used to hide from the brutal Ethiopian occupation forces.

I set up my cameras right near the cliff, asks my local cameraman to roll, and then put the first question to a local mountaineer, Mr. Ibrahim Omar: “How was life here, for you, before and after the independence?”

"There were two separate lives”, he explained. “The first one, before independence – that was harsh, brutal. And then came the other life, a totally different one, after we won. This is when our basic human rights got recognized and respected. The schools, health posts and roads were built. Everything was suddenly transformed.”

read more

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Illegal immigrants from Eritrea 'risking their lives and will get caught

Seventeen illegal immigrants who were detained after they were seen "climbing out the side of a lorry" have been processed by Immigration Enforcement.

The 16 men and women - aged between 20 and 36, plus one who claimed to be a minor - were detained at Cobham Services on the M25 on Tuesday evening (December 9).

A Home Office spokesman said all 17 were Eritrean nationals and they were taken to various Surrey Police stations, with the minor awaiting "independent age assessment by social services".

"We work closely with the police to tackle illegal immigration and continue to strengthen the security of our border to stop those who have no right to enter the UK," said the spokesman.

"If people have a genuine need of protection, they should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.

Read more

Ethiopian mega hydro-electric power program is progressing well

ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s mega hydroelectric power project being built on the Blue Nile River, known by the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), is progressing well, Ethiopian officials have said.

The project in the East African country will generate 6000-MW of electric power upon completion.

The dam is being constructed in Benishangul Gumuz Regional State of Ethiopia, western part of the country, about 40 km east of the border with Sudan.
Engineer Simegnew Bekele, Project Manager of the GERD, told Xinhua on Saturday that the project is progressing well in all its activities.

All the activities on the project "are progressing healthily in order to realize the project.

"We are mobilizing all the people, nations and nationalities of Ethiopia, including the Ethiopian Diaspora," said Simegnew.

Ethiopia is now harnessing its potential for renewable energy to fight against poverty and improve the lives and livelihoods of its people, said Simegnew.

"This is a green energy; and this supports other renewable energy; and Ethiopia is the power hub; we have tremendous natural resources.

Read more

Justice for Hanna

One day in early October, Hanna Lalango, 16, did not return from school to her home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the usual time. Her father Lalongo Hayesso was worried about his youngest daughter.

“We waited for her at her usual time … but we had to wait for 11 days to hear that she had been abandoned on the street. She was incapacitated and couldn’t even get up,” said Hayesso. His daughter had been abducted, gang-raped and left for dead. Hanna was not able to get to hospital until 12 days after her attack, where she was treated for traumatic gynaecological fistula and other injuries. She died on 1 November.

Sexual violence against women in Ethiopia is relatively common. Research from 2012 found that “rape is undoubtedly one of the rampant crimes in Ethiopia”, and linked its prevalence to male chauvinist culture, legal loopholes, the inefficiency of different agencies in the criminal justice system, and “a deep-seated culture of silence”. In October 2011, an Ethiopian Airlines flight attendant named Aberash Hailay lost her eyesight after her ex-husband, Fisseha, stabbed her in both eyes with a sharp knife. And there’s the story of Frehiwot Tadesse, a mother of two, who was shot several times by her ex-husband in a broad daylight in Addis. Since the first reported case involving Kamilat Mehdi and her ex-boyfriend, acid attacks against women have also shown a disturbing increase.

Read more

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ethiopia Completes Debut Dollar Bond Sale

Ben Edwards

Landmark Deal Caps a Record Year for Frontier Market Debt Issuance

Ethiopia completed its debut dollar bond sale on Thursday, capping off a record year for frontier market debt issuance.

The 10-year bond priced to yield 6.625% and raised $1 billion, according to one of the banks working on the deal. Investors said demand for the bond had reached about $2 billion.

The deal is another landmark sale for Africa, having seen a bumper $2 billion debut issue from Kenya in June—one of the largest ever first-time sales from the region.

“We’re running out of new names that can issue,” said Kevin Daly, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management in London, adding that Ethiopia is the poorest country on a per-capita basis that has issued international bonds.

Mr. Daly said he bought some of the bonds.

The deal takes bond sales from frontier-market borrowers to about $40 billion this year—a record high, according to data provider Dealogic. Frontier-market countries have ramped up global debt sales this year to take advantage of low interest rates and investor demand for higher yielding debt. Expectations that the U.S. Federal Reservewill start raising rates next year means bond issuers are eager to lock in cheap funding costs while they can.

READ more

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Structural transformation of Ethiopian economy under discussion in Addis Ababa

Policymakers from the Ethiopian Prime Minister's Office held brainstorming meeting with experts from UNCTAD and other international bodies.

The meeting, held on 1 December and called Brainstorming on the Industrial Transformation Strategy of Ethiopia: The Case of Large Scale Commercial Agriculture and Agro-Processing, focused on strategies for structural transformation of Ethiopia, with particular emphasis on agro-processing industries.

Experts from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Labour Organization and academics, including representatives from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, also took part.

Participants discussed the various challenges faced by the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and the role that UNCTAD may play in supporting the local government to overcome these challenges. In particular, participants debated how to design a strategic trade integration strategy aimed at upgrading the production and export structure of the country and facilitating effective participation in global and regional value chains.

The role of innovation policies, importance of enhancing capabilities and learnings from success stories were also examined during the workshop.

Discussions between the Ethiopian government and representatives from UNCTAD's Division of Globalisation and Development Strategies and the Division of Africa and Least Developed Countries will continue in Addis Ababa in a follow-up meeting scheduled for 19 December, 2014.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ethiopia: The Right to Remain Silent

By Ben Rawlence

Few political rights exist in Ethiopia and even fewer voices criticise the government.

The right to remain silent is one liberty not denied to critics of the Ethiopian government. Most other political entitlements have vanished. This explains the puzzle of Ethiopia's invisible political opposition: it is so battered and brutalised, tattered and torn, that what is left of its pieces may never fit together again.

The current government is mostly to blame. It came to power in 1991 after it toppled the communist military junta led by despot Mengistu Haile Mariam. The victorious coalition of ethnic militias promised a new dispensation, based on the concept of "ethnic federalism".

But nearly a quarter of a century later, Ethiopia remains a de facto one-party state. As countless analysts have noted, including successive European Union election observation missions, there is no separation between the government bureaucracy and the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). No political space is allowed to dissenting voices.

Most critics are behind bars, the first and main reason for the absence of a political opposition in Africa's oldest independent nation.

Read more