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Great Ethiopian Run 2018 helps promotes unity with Eritrea
Eritrean star Zersenay Tadese competed in his first Great Ethiopian Run following July's peace deal.

Eritrean leader in 'historic' visit to Somalia

Tesfalem Araia

BBC Tigrinya

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki is visiting Somalia for the first time in decades.

He has held talks with his Somali counterpart, President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed, in the capital, Mogadishu.

For many years Eritrea refused to recognise Somalia’s UN-backed government – because of its close ties to Ethiopia and Western powers.

But in the wake of the thaw in relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, things have improved throughout the region – mainly thanks to Ethiopia’s new leader Abiy Ahmed.

He ended a two-decade state of war with Eritrea and encouraged regional talks.

In July, President Mohamed visited Asmara where a tripartite peace agreement was signed between Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea

“President Isaias's historic visit is part and parcel of the consultative tripartite summits of the heads of state and government of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia,” Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said.

He also tweeted pictures of the "warm welcome" accorded to Mr Isaias:

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The Somali presidency tweeted that the visit marked a "new era":

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Eritrea had been accused of supporting Somalia al-Shabab militants – an allegation it always strenuously denied.

UN sanctions placed on Eritrea in 2009 because of these suspicions were lifted in November, citing a lack of evidence.

Mr Isaias is also expected to visit Nairobi to hold talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Top US official meets Eritrean leader

A senior US official is on a rare visit to Eritrea which until recently was internationally isolated and under sanctions.

The US Assistant Secretary for Africa, Tibor Nagy, has met President Isaias Afwerki and his visit comes at a time when significant changes are taking place in the region following an end to hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Eritrea's information minister has tweeted a picture of the meeting:

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Sanctions imposed on Eritrea in 2009 over allegations it supported Islamist militants in Somalia were lifted last month - Eritrea always denied the allegations.

The human rights group Amnesty International has called on Mr Nagy to use the visit to address what it calls Eritrea's dire human rights record.

Amnesty wants the US to put pressure on the government to release what it calls prisoners of conscience.

Singing for freedom in Eritrea

The gospel singer who defied persecution in Eritrea
Helen Berhane was imprisoned and tortured for thirty-two months in Eritrea. Her crime? Singing gospel music from the Rema Church, a minority Evangelical Christian church that is not formally recognised in the country.

Eritrea is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution. Eventually Helen was freed and was granted asylum in Denmark, where she now lives.

How did she keep singing through adversity?

Interview: Geoff Bird
Producer: Sophia Smith Galer
(Photo credit: BBC)
Map of Eritrea

Provides an overview of Eritrea, including key events and facts for this country on the Horn of Africa.

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Ethiopian rebels based in Eritrea return home

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Close to 2,000 Ethiopian rebels, who had been based in neighbouring Eritrea, have returned home after signing a peace agreement in August with the government in Addis Ababa.

The Tigray People's Democratic Movement (TPDM) was formed in 2001 shortly after Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war which left tens of thousands of people dead.

The group received training and support from the Eritrean government whilst the Ethiopian government backed Eritrean rebel forces.

The two countries ended hostilities in July after the newly elected Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, reached out to make peace with Eritrea.

The youngsters navigating the UK's asylum system
Inside Out London speaks to charities who say some young asylum seekers have recently taken their own lives