The Eritrean government has become so isolated and desperate that it has tried to sell its precious gold resources to Russia – at any price. Sanctions have hurt the financial position of this government so much that the only way they could try to get support was to surreptitiously, and unannounced, send government representatives to Moscow, Russia in late 2012, to offer the Russian government the rich gold and base metal deposits in Mogoribe.
Mogoribe is located in the Gash-Barka region, western Eritrea, about 200kms from the capital city Asmara, and 60kms from Barentu city. The idea being that Russia should advocate in their favour at the UN Security Council, which has had sanctions in place since 2009, to lift these sanctions according to the credible information Human Rights Concern – Eritrea received.
Can it be coincidence that the Russians blocked the release of the UN’s Monitoring Group report on Eritrea in July 2013? Can it be coincidence that the Russians are mining for gold this area in Mogoribe that had already been fenced off after feasibility studies and geological survey had been completed? Why this enormous gift, wrapped up in ribbon and bow? What has happened to the population that was living there? Has there been any consultation? Any compensation?
What is in this UN Monitoring Group report on Eritrea that the Russians are so keen to withhold on behalf of the Eritrean government now that it has financial interests vested in that country? Is that why Russia adamantly objected to and insisted to water-down the recommendations made by the sanctions committee panel in relation to monitoring Eritrea’s mining revenue, which involves, voluntary disclosures and earmarking, joint supervision and mandatory disclosure.
In February 2014, the Eritrean Foreign Minister, Osman Saleh, and his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov met at a joint press conference in Russia to ’boost trade’ http://www.madote.com/2014/02/eritrea-and-russia-to-boost-trade-and.html). What kind of trade could Russia do with Eritrea, a country that is unable to feed its own populace? A country that does not even have a budget? A country that uses forced labour? A country that has completely paralyzed the private sector, where every company is owned by the single-party government?
What else, on top of its gold resources, is Eritrea’s rogue regime selling off, or giving away, in its desperation to survive? The Eritrean Foreign Minister and the President’s Advisor even visited the Republic of Crimea, one of the world’s worst hotspots at the moment (http://www.tesfanews.net/eritrean-delegation-visited-abkhazia-south-ossetia-and-crimea/). How desperate can our leaders be that they are making such strange bedfellows and running such enormous personal risk to show that they are supporting the Russians in exchange for their help against the UN sanctions on Eritrea? Any port in a storm?
For the last four weeks there has been next-to-no electric power in Eritrea. Inflation is so high that most people cannot afford to feed their children or pay their rent. This, in a country that is rich in gold, copper, zinc, potash, ornamental marble, granite, and other natural resources. Mismanagement and greed has led to the worst human rights record in the world, being equalled only by North Korea. Where is the income from these gold mines going? There are no records. No transparency. Nothing an Eritrean can look at. Nothing a Russian would want you to see.
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
17 July 2014