A report from a UN independent investigator is putting a fresh spotlight on allegations of torture, sexual violence, forced labor, and abusive conditions in Eritrea's system of compulsory, indefinite national service. The investigator noted that Eritrea has ignored repeated calls to ensure legal limits for national service. Since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago, Eritrea has been led by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election.
Eritrea lodged a diplomatic protest with the United Kingdom Aug. 12 after the British ambassador to Ethiopia publicly called "for Eritrean forces to withdraw completely back to their own borders." Eritrean forces intervened in support of Ethiopia's federal government during the two-year war in northern Tigray region, but supposedly withdrew after last year's ceasefire. Asmara's diplomatic statement decried "unwarranted remarks" by the ambassador, Darren Welch, without explicitly stating that it no longer has forces in Tigray. One day earlier, the UK Minister of State for Development & Africa Andrew Mitchel issued a finding that "Eritrean forces remaining in Tigray present an obstacle to the overall objective of peace and stability within the region." The controversy comes 10 months after a formal ceasefire in Tigray that has led to a reduction of violence in the region, although rights abuses and a humanitarian crisis persist, exacerbated by a devastating drought. (AFP, Jurist)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged free grain to six African nations. The announcement comes one week after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal, triggering a spike in global prices. Opening the Africa-Russian summit in St. Petersburg on July 27, Putin promised to send 25,000 to 50,000 tons of free grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea. The countries are among Moscow's closest allies on the continent, but they are not all the most food-import dependent. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that a "handful of donations" would not correct the market impact of Russia's termination of the year-long deal, which had cut cereal prices by more than one third. The African Union echoed Guterres' criticism.
Thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray state took to the streets May 23 in demonstrations, demanding a prompt return to their homes and the withdrawal of central government troops. Protesters in multiple cities, including regional capital Mekele, chanted slogans such as "return us quickly to our homelands" and "invading forces should leave our land." Nearly 3 million people have been displaced due to the conflict in Tigray, which broke out two and half years ago and officially ended with a a peace agreement last November. Efforts to address the crisis and resolve outstanding conflicts on the ground are ongoing, with international organizations led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs providing assistance to the affected.
The Washington Post reports April 24 that among the classified documents leaked to Discord chat platform by Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira are February findings from an unnamed US intelligence agency that Russia's paramilitary Wagner Group is seeking to recruit rebels to destabilize the government of Chad. One document states that Wagner is working to establish a training camp for hundreds of fighters across the border in the Central African Republic as part of an "evolving plot to topple the Chadian government."
A month after the two parties signed a ceasefire agreement, the truce between Ethiopia's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is holding. But while aid flows into Tigray are scaling up, deliveries still aren't matching needs. The World Food Program said Nov. 25 that while road corridors into Tigray have reopened, access to some areas within the region remains off limits. Essential services, including banking and the internet, remain switched off, with no date set for restoring them. And while plans are proceeding for the disarmament of TPLF fighters, that process is complicated by Eritrean and Amhara forces, which were allies to the government during the conflict—and are reportedly still carrying out attacks on civilians in Tigray, including killings, kidnapping and looting.
More than a month after renewed clashes broke out in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, there are few signs of de-escalation. A new air-strike hit Tigray's capital of Mekelle on Sept. 23, while the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), accused Eritrea of launching a full-scale offensive in support of the Ethiopian government. There are reports that Eritrea (which has a historical enmity against the TPLF) is mobilizing army reservists, with notices handed out in Asmara, the capital. The return to combat came after a five-month truce that saw back-channel meetings between Mekelle and Addis Ababa but no formal talks. The risk that fresh fighting poses to civilians was underscored by UN investigators, who submitted their first report on the two-year conflict. The investigators accused Ethiopia's government of war crimes in Tigray, and of using starvation as a counterinsurgency tool. Tigrayan forces were also accused of serious human rights abuses.
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on March 4 adopted a resolution to establish an Independent International Commission of Inquiry to investigate charges of gross violations by Russian forces in Ukraine. After holding a moment of silence for Ukrainian victims, HRC members passed the resolution overwhelmingly, in a 32–2 vote. Among the 32 countries voting in favor of the resolution were France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, the UK, and the US. The only two countries voting against were Russia and Eritrea. Several other countries, including Bolivia, Cameroon, China, and Cuba, abstained.