Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (17 November) prior to her departure for a Federal Foreign Office regional human rights seminar in Nairobi:
Influential countries in East Africa currently face the challenges posed by profound political transformation. We thus have the greatest respect for all of the Sudanese people who risked their lives for freedom, peace and democracy and whom we must support in the current transition phase. A democratic Sudan would be a close partner to Germany and Europe and a role model for the entire region. The détente between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a further sign of prospects for lasting peace, regional integration and economic growth.
However, these signs of hope are overshadowed by ethnic violence, as seen recently once again in Ethiopia, massive violations of human rights, such as in Eritrea and Burundi, and the decades-long conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia, where both state and non-state actors cause terrible suffering.
This is an important time to discuss regional human rights issues in depth with civil society representatives. A further aim should be to explore how we can help to enhance scope for civil society. A vibrant and critical civil society is the anchor and lifeline of a stable and functioning democracy. The goal of our regional seminar is to help human rights defenders to establish regional links and share experiences, thus strengthening their voice. I am looking forward to speaking with these people in Kenya – a country that has rightfully been one of the cornerstones of stability in the region for years – and to hearing their recommendations on how to deal with countries in the region.
Furthermore, Nairobi is a regional centre for a large number of UN organisations and NGOs. In the severe crises all over the region, our aim is to enable people to live in safety and dignity. In Kenya, a major host country for some 500,000 refugees from the region, the humanitarian situation has also deteriorated in the northeast for the local population, refugees and host communities following extended periods of drought and severe flooding. In response, the German Government has provided a further two million euros for humanitarian logistics and emergency food aid, thus contributing a total of six million euros to the World Food Programme. Germany will also help Kenya with regional refugee crises in 2020 by taking in up to 480 refugees.
The Federal Foreign Office and the Human Rights Commissioner have organised one or two regional human rights seminars every year since 2011. The current seminar for human rights defenders from East Africa will focus on freedom of opinion, the press and assembly, the human rights architecture in the region, jurisdiction matters, and prospects for gender equality and minority rights. The Human Rights Commissioner will also hold talks with members of the Kenyan Government and international organisations.