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from John Lloyd:

Maybe don’t give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses

As we saw last week, Africans are desperately risking, and losing, their lives in the struggle to get into Europe. They come above all from the war-afflicted states of Eritrea, Somalia and Syria. They trek to Libya (itself now increasingly in bloody turmoil, a Spring long gone) or Tunisia, and from there seek a boat to the island of Lampedusa, the southernmost piece of Italian soil, nearer to the north African coast than it is to Sicily.

The emigrants pay up to 1,000 euros to traffickers, who sometimes take their money and disappear, sometimes pack hundreds of them into fishing boats, which might normally carry a dozen men. From there they set off to cover the 80 or so miles to the lovely island, a luxurious resort with some of the best beaches on the planet, and now the fevered hope of some of the world’s poorest.

At the end of last week, a 66-foot ship with upwards of 500 of these people sank less than a mile from Lampedusa. More than 150 were rescued; as many as 350 may have drowned. Italy, mired in recession with burgeoning unemployment for all, and especially for the young, is no more generous to illegal emigrants than the rest of Europe, but the scale caused shock there and throughout the continent. Unlikely, though, that it will it cause a change in attitude.

The Mediterranean immigrants are not just fleeing poverty -- as emigrants, including millions from Italy in the past two centuries, have always done. They are fleeing death. The largest proportion of the Mediterranean immigrants come from Eritrea, Somalia and Syria. The plight of those three countries makes clear what their citizens are running from, even if it’s unclear what they’re running towards.

from The Great Debate:

Rice: Hitting ‘reset’ on Africa talks

Michael O’Hanlon, in his Reuters Opinion piece, “In defense of Susan Rice” (Reuters, December 10, 2012), took issue with my New York Times op-ed article, “Susan Rice and Africa’s Despots” (December 9, 2012).

Mine were not ad hominem attacks. It is fair to hold a public official accountable for her career and for the roles she played and continues to play in attempting to resolve African conflicts. I was not questioning U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice’s desire for a more peaceful continent.

from Isaac Esipisu:

Ethiopia and Eritrea: An elusive peace on the cards?

By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia and Eritrea are still at each others’ throats. The two neighbours fought hammer and tongs in sun-baked trenches during a two-year war over a decade ago, before a peace deal ended their World War I-style conflict in 2000. Furious veRed Sea, UNrbal battles, however, have continued to this day.

Yet, amid the blistering rhetoric and scares over a return to war, analysts say the feuding rivals are reluctant to lock horns once again. Neighbouring South Sudan and some Ethiopian politicians are working on plans to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

from Africa News blog:

Ethiopia and Eritrea: An elusive peace on the cards?

By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia and Eritrea are still at each others’ throats. The two neighbours fought hammer and tongs in sun-baked trenches during a two-year war over a decade ago, before a peace deal ended their World War I-style conflict in 2000. Furious veRed Sea, UNrbal battles, however, have continued to this day.

Yet, amid the blistering rhetoric and scares over a return to war, analysts say the feuding rivals are reluctant to lock horns once again. Neighbouring South Sudan and some Ethiopian politicians are working on plans to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

from Africa News blog:

Is Israel right in deporting African migrants

Israel this week started deporting a planeload of migrants to South Sudan early on Monday, the first of a series of weekly repatriation flights intended as a stepping stone to dealing with much greater influxes of migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Ivory Coast.

About 60,000 Africans have crossed into Israel across its porous border with Egypt in recent years. Israel says the vast majority are job seekers, disputing arguments by humanitarian agencies that they should be considered for asylum.

from Africa News blog:

A ‘day of rage’ in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia’s handful of TV channels are not carrying much news lately.  Instead, broadcasters are spending most of their time covering every phase of the construction of a new mega dam along the country’s Nile waters.

From mawkish ballads to patriotic poems and documentaries, programmes are waxing eloquently about how far the impoverished African nation has come since the dreaded Communist junta was toppled two decades ago, by defying Egyptian pressure and embarking on a massive project from its own coffers.

from Africa News blog:

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Another war?

Ethiopia is beating the war drums again. After a lull of more than a decade, the Horn of Africa giant is now threatening to attack its neighbour and foe Eritrea over claims it is working to destabilise the country.

When Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his country would no longer take a passive stance towards Eritrea, it marked an escalation in the bitter war of words that has ensued since a devastating border spat ended in 2000.

from Africa News blog:

Is Eritrean policy shift just “tactical”?

ALGERIA

Eritrea’s arms seem to have been folded in a sulk for a long time now. The Red Sea state has, for some, taken on the black sheep role in the Horn of Africa family. But President Isaias Afewerki is looking eager to get off the naughty step.

His opponents say he was put there for good reason. Eritrea became increasingly isolated in the region after a 1998 – 2000 border war with neighbouring - and much bigger – Ethiopia.

from Africa News blog:

Where is Lemlem?

lemlemresizeIt’s one of those photos. The type you can’t get out of your head. There’s just something about it that draws you in. You keep coming back to look again.

It could be because she’s beautiful. Dark brown eyes, gently rounded cheeks, bundles of black curls held atop her head by a carefully tied scarf, the start of a smile she’s trying to suppress, a smile you know will charm when set free.

from Africa News blog:

Mining and free trade in Eritrea

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki has guarded his country jealousy since independence, pushing a self-reliant attitude that encourages Eritreans to rebuild Eritrea for themselves.

But in order to develop the potentially lucrative mining and trade sectors, he will have to open up the country more to foreign money and therefore possible foreign influence.

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