23 February 2017

East Africa: European Union's Double Standard Policy Towards Eritrea

Photo: Le Temps
(File photo).

It is no secret that the west especially, European Union has been playing double- standard politics towards the rest. Their hypocrisy has been tested practically in Eritrea in the last 20 years. What makes it irony is that the EU claims it stands for humanity but what it does in reality is the other way round. As to my best knowledge, it preaches about expanding democracy while pouring billions of dollars to anti-democratic leaders. Some in the EU pretend that they worry about migration while supporting regimes that are sources of migration. Practical in point is that the recent donation to Eritrea while 20 per cent of its population left in exodus. It is no longer secret that the main source of the influx is the leadership. However, the EU leaders pretend the main source of the migration is economic crisis in Eritrea. I do not know why it is unfamiliar for the EU that a government without constitution, courts, economic policies and social strategies could use the money to reduce migration. It is hypocrisy at its best.

Adding salt into wound

Following the announcement of the European Commission DG Development Cooperation decision that approved 200 million Euros to Eritrea under the 11th European Development Finance, the people of the Horn of Africa mainly Eritreans have been taken by surprise. The move has triggered concerned people to respond to the EU's shocking decision. Besides the uttered concerns from countries in the Horn of Africa and the international community threatened by the destabilizing role of the regime in Eritrea, prominent personalities and many organized Eritrean opposition groups all-inclusively are complaining about the negative impact of the so called financial aid of the EU to the dying horse of the Eritrean regime.

Commissioner Neven Mimica and various European diplomats are, however, trying to justify the commission's move in line with asymmetrical migration and as an opportunity to fix the quarrels between Eritrea and the EU and its member States. If the EU wants to break its deteriorated diplomatic ties with the Eritrean regime using this financial aid, then this is, I say, a grave mistake which should be condemned in the strict sense of the word. The decision of EU to rescue the internationally certified terrorist regime in Asmara explains nothing else but its aspirations about its political and economic interest at the expense of human rights and democratic principles. The aid meant would sustain the life of the regime in Eritrea which is the main source of political instability in the horn. This in turn would be fueling the refugees coming from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea. Both problems will be prolonged and intensified.

The EU failed to understand or wants to ignore the root cause of the political instability being observed in the horn of Africa for the last 20 years and in the same time the driving force of the refuges influx from Eritrea to the European. The many outlawed armed groups like Al-Qaida linked Al-shebab, ONLF, OLF, Ginbot 7 etc groups supported, trained, and financed by Eritrean regime have been immensely behind the crisis which claimed millions of innocent people. The South Sudan, Somali and Eritrean refugees' pushing factors are political not economy, which I would like to explain to EU member states.

Simply the so called aid will prolong the agony of the people of Eritrean in the hands of the tyrant regime and they will continue fleeing the country. In a simple logic, the aid of the EU will offer little breathing space to the naturally dying terrorist state and it will in turn fuel the migrants coming from Eritrea fearing persecutions. The intended plan will backfire on the EU itself then.

This move by Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (EC DEVCO) could, in my opinion, face critical criticisms in front of the world. I reassure you; it will never halt the flood of migrants from Eritrea but hasten the exodus at unpredictable amount. The reason is clear; more than 95% of Eritreans are abandoning their country not for the sake of jobs but in search of peace and security. I have never seen but in Eritrea while the very farmers abandon their land to escape death threat from the regime that the EU is telling us that is set to help the regime it in the name of the people of Eritrea who are suffering gross inhuman atrocities.

The EU move is not only against its principles but also against the very people of Eritrea and the UN Commission Report. It is to be recalled that, the UN commission report_ has labeled the conditions in Eritrea "slavery" and said that "some of the gross and widespread human rights abuses which are being committed in Eritrea, under the authority of the government, often constitute crimes against humanity". A member of that UN Commission of Inquiry said: "We seldom see human rights violations of the scope and scale as we see in Eritrea today." The list of atrocities goes on. Few, if any, detainees are brought to trial. "Disappearances" are commonplace. According to_Human Rights Watch, prisoners are held in crowded underground cells or in shipping containers with no space to lie down. It is also to be recalled that the UNSC has put on Eritrea twice for its support of Al-sheba and threatening the peace and stability of the horn.

That is why the EU support deserves condemnation, which is why we say the EU is becoming another obstacle in the horn of Africa by sustaining belligerence regimes of Asmara.

It is beyond doubt that fearing persecutions, more than 20% of Eritreans fled the country in the last 10 years making it the second largest refugees producing tiny country next to the war-torn Syria. Nobody could imagine that this information is not available to the EU.

No question that the courageous Eritrean people deserve affluence and comfort, and like any ACP country, Eritrea should obtain support from international development partners. The point here is whether development partners like the EC DEVCO should provide money to a naturally dying regime without any reliable guarantee that the money will achieve the intended objective. Article 96(a) needs a comprehensive inspection of the circumstances in a partner country with a view to find a solution before extending financial support. As far as my best comprehension is concerned, the EU has never made such examination of the situation in Eritrea regarding political engagement.

Concluding remarks

What is the reason behind the EU aid to the internationally certified destabilizing role of Isayas' regime? The AU, IGAD, UN and most determinedly the Eritrean people have been uttering openly that the mafia styled regime of Eritrea is against its own people and terrorizing the peoples of the Horn and Yemen. Is it the interest of EU to support any kind of regime, be it anti democracy or anti-peace regardless of its core principles? We can guess but could not understand the whole approach of EU in this regard. What could one only say is that the EU is careless about the suffering of Eritrean people in the hands of the very regime it is giving it additional life.

The EU should know that using the money, the regime will increase its capabilities in pushing more people out of the country. More refuges will arrive in the EU land by any means possible. Hence, the aid will simply generate more refuges. Migration is a policy for the Eritrean regime which is encouraged as a source of income. Thinking the regime will stop is to be naïve. The future will proof the fact that whether the aid will reduce migration or increase anyway. Thus, EU is simply adding salt into Eritreans' wound.

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