Brussels likely to give £150m grant to Eritrea, despite large numbers of its people joining exodus to Europe
Brussels is continuing to give large-scale aid grants to African nations with repressive governments, despite evidence that their woeful human rights records are fuelling Europe’s migrant crisis.
The Telegraph has learned that Brussels may give nearly £150m in aid funding to Eritrea, a country dubbed “The African North Korea” because of its practice of conscripting menfolk into near-indefinite military service.
In 2014, some one in five of all migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean in people-smuggling boats were Eritreans, according to the figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
But while the plans enjoy the backing of Downing Street, which wants the EU to send out a tough message, in practice Brussels has little appetite to cut aid even to those countries seen as the worst offenders.
High on the list in Africa right now is Eritrea, which is effectively run as a one-party state by President Isaias Afwerki, a former guerrilla leader who has ruled for more than 20 years.
Thousands of political prisoners languish in jail, no elections have been held in 20 years, and like Kim Jong-un’s hermit regime in Pyongyang, the country is off-limits to foreign media and human rights groups.
Since its war of its 30 year war independence from Ethiopia in 1991, it has also maintained a draconian policy of national service, which can often see young men conscripted for years on end into what amounts to government-run slave labour programs.
Yet despite a long-standing consensus that the Eritrean exodus is directly linked to the Eritrean government’s repressive policies, Brussels is continuing to give the country aid.
Some £87m was handed over in a six-year-aid package that ended in 2013, including a £3.5m program to help restore a Italian colonial-era cinema in the capital, Asmara.
EU officials have now also told The Telegraph that there were “ongoing discussions” about a forthcoming economic development package worth £148m for coming years.
Full article: European Union continuing to fund African nations that are fuelling migrant crisis (The Telegraph)