• UK to block #visas for countries refusing to take back asylum seekers

    Bill would give home secretary power to take action against citizens of countries deemed not to be cooperating.

    The UK will block visas for visitors from countries the home secretary believes are refusing to cooperate in taking back rejected asylum seekers or offenders.

    In proposed legislation published on Tuesday, #Priti_Patel and future home secretaries would have the power to suspend or delay the processing of applications from countries that do no “cooperate with the UK government in relation to the removal from the United Kingdom of nationals of that country who require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom but do not have it”.

    The clause in the nationality and borders bill also allows for the home secretary to impose additional financial requirements for visa applications – that is, an increase in fees – if countries do not cooperate.

    The proposals mirror US legislation that allows officials to withdraw visa routes from countries that refuse to take back undocumented migrants. It is understood that countries such as Iraq, Iran, Eritrea and Sudan are reluctant to cooperate with the UK on such matters.

    The change is one of many in the bill, described as “the biggest overhaul of the UK’s asylum system in decades” by Patel, which includes measures such as:

    - Asylum seekers deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive in the country via legal routes. Even if their claim is successful, they will be granted temporary refugee status and face the prospect of being indefinitely liable for removal.

    - Asylum seekers will be able to be removed from the UK while their asylum claim or appeal is pending, which opens the door to offshore asylum processing.

    - For those deemed to have arrived illegally, access to benefits and family reunion rights could be limited.

    – The appeals and judicial process will be changed to speed up the removal of those whose claims are refused.

    - The home secretary will be able to offer protection to vulnerable people in “immediate danger and at risk in their home country” in exceptional circumstances. It is thought this will be used to help a small number of people.

    – The system will be made “much harder for people to be granted refugee status based on unsubstantiated claims” and will include “rigorous age assessments” to stop adults pretending to be children. The government is considering the use of bone scanners to determine age.

    - Life sentences will be brought in as a maximum penalty for people-smugglers.

    - Foreign criminals who breach deportation orders and return to the UK could be jailed for up to five years instead of the current six months.

    – A new one-stop legal process is proposed so that asylum, human rights claims and any other protection matters are made and considered together before appeal hearings.

    Campaigners have dubbed the proposed legislation the “anti-refugee bill”, claiming it will penalise those who need help the most.

    Analysis of Home Office data by the Refugee Council suggests 9,000 people who would be accepted as refugees under current rules – those confirmed to have fled war or persecution following official checks – may no longer be given safety in the UK due to their means of arrival under the changes.

    The charity’s chief executive, Enver Solomon, said that for decades people had taken “extraordinary measures to flee oppression”, but had gone on to become “law-abiding citizens playing by the rules and paying their taxes as proud Britons”.

    Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrants rights programme director at Amnesty International UK, branded the bill “legislative vandalism”, claimed it could “fatally undermine the right to asylum” and accused Patel of a “shameful dereliction of duty”, adding: “This reckless and deeply unjust bill is set to bring shame on Britain’s international reputation.”

    Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, described the plans as “dripping with cruelty” and an “affront to the caring people in this country who want a kinder, fairer approach to refugees”.

    More than 250 organisations – including the Refugee Council, the British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, Refugee Action and Asylum Matters – have joined to form the coalition Together with Refugees to call for a more effective, fair and humane approach to asylum in the UK.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jul/06/uk-to-block-visas-from-countries-refusing-to-take-back-undocumented-mig

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #chantage #visas #UK #Angleterre

    La loi comprend aussi une disposition concernant l’#externalisation des #procédures_d'asile :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/918427

    Une des dispositions rappelle la loi de l’#excision_territoriale (#Australie) :

    Asylum seekers deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive in the country via legal routes. Even if their claim is successful, they will be granted temporary refugee status and face the prospect of being indefinitely liable for removal.

    voir :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/901628#message901630
    https://seenthis.net/messages/416996
    #modèle_australien

    #offshore_asylum_processing
    #Irak #Iran #Erythrée #Sudan #réfugiés_irakiens #réfugiés_iraniens #réfugiés_soudanais #réfugiés_érythréens #réfugiés_soudanais #regroupement_familial #aide_sociale #procédure_d'asile #recours #mineurs #âge #tests_osseux #criminels_étrangers #rétention #détention_administrative #anti-refugee_bill

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Humeur | Stigmatiser les réfugié·es, même pour parler de la loi sur le CO2….

    À court d’argument sur la loi sur le CO2, l’UDC ?

    Dans son clip de campagne pour le 13 juin, l’UDC suisse joue les oracles en prédisant que dans la Suisse du futur, les réfugié·es érythréen·es profiteraient de l’argent de l’aide sociale pour retourner régulièrement en vacances en Erythrée, augmentant les émissions de CO2…

    Quant aux bons et pauvres Suisses, ils seraient contraint·es malgré leur dur labeur de passer leurs congés à la maison, à causes d’impôts exorbitants. Ah, et argument massue : à cause des énergies alternatives, on ne pourra même plus recharger son portable et se chauffer.

    Bref, une caricature qui laisse croire que l’UDC se préoccupe des petites gens et surtout des jeunes : outre les votes et positions antisociales et ultralibérales du parti, on leur rappellera, entre autres, que sa vice-présidente, Magdalena Martullo-Blocher, fille du bien-nommé Christoph, figure au top 10 des Suisses les plus fortunés et des 500 plus riches milliardaires du monde. Et qu’Albert Rösti, ex-dirigeant du parti, est président de Swissoil, l’association nationale des négociants en combustibles.

    La plus pure défense de leurs intérêts, donc. Pour faire passer la pilule, rien de plus commode que d’agiter les vieilles rengaines : la haine de l’étranger, ça paie toujours…

    https://asile.ch/2021/06/04/humeur-stigmatiser-les-refugie%c2%b7es-meme-pour-parler-de-la-loi-sur-le-co2

    –—

    Le clip est accessible notamment sur twitter :

    Wir schreiben das Jahr 2030. Neun Jahre nach Corona und nach Annahme des CO2-Gesetzes ist die Schweiz eine andere: Im Bundesrat regiert eine links-grüne Mehrheit. Die SP hat ihren Slogan - für alle statt für wenige – endlich umgesetzt: Jetzt sind alle arm dran.

    https://twitter.com/SVPch/status/1393850224821555201

    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #UDC #Suisse #clip #campagne #loi_sur_le_CO2 #climat #changement_climatique #instrumentalisation #aide_sociale #réfugiés_érythréens

    • Communiqué de l’association Gezana et de l’ASEPE :

      Discrimination des migrant-e-s : Gezana et l’ASEPE dénonce la vidéo de campagne de l’UDC sur la loi CO2

      Dans cette vidéo, publiée le 16 mai 2021 sur Youtube, l’UDC Suisse sous-entend que les réfugié-e-s érythréen-ne-s vivant en Suisse sont à l’aide sociale et qu’ils se rendent en vacances en Érythrée deux fois par année. Dans ce message de propagande aussi discriminatoire qu’infondé, l’UDC essaie de nuire à l’image de la communauté érythréenne. Il fait croire, à tort, sans preuves et sans informations objectives, que les personnes reconnues comme réfugiées profiteraient de l’argent de l’aide sociale pour retourner régulièrement en vacances en Erythrée, augmentant l’émission de CO2.

      Ce genre de propos est complètement infondé et inacceptable. Ni la situation en Erythrée, ni la loi suisse sur l’asile ne permettent de retourner dans le pays sans prendre de risques considérables, notamment l’arrestation immédiate et arbitraire par le gouvernement érythréen ainsi que le risque de perdre le statut de réfugié en Suisse.

      Gezana et l’ASEPE dénoncent fermement ce discours discriminant contre les personnes issues de la migration et plus particulièrement contre la communauté érythréenne en Suisse. Instrumentaliser les réfugié-e-s en choisissant une communauté comme cible à des fins de marketing politique est immoral, malhonnête et inacceptable.

      Cette hostilité sans fondement n’aboutit qu’à des pratiques d’exclusion et ne peut que mettre en péril les programmes d’intégration pour lesquels, nous, les associations et les forces politiques, œuvrons ensemble pour le bien de toutes et tous.

      A travers nos expériences de terrain, nous observons que beaucoup d’Erythréennes et d’Erythréens mettent tous les efforts possibles pour bien s’intégrer en Suisse. Ils suivent des cours de langue, décrochent des apprentissages et sont bien intégrés au niveau professionnel et social. En outre, ils participent au bien-être de la société, ce qui bénéficie donc également d’un point de vue financier à la Suisse. Nous sommes convaincu-e-s que l’immigration des Erythréennes et des Erythréens est un développement économique et social positif pour la Suisse et mettrons tout en œuvre pour rendre notre pays plus fort – ensemble !

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZWif4z_jOUhfcNJbBX3GqnW99HtBtxKm/view

  • Ethiopia announces the shut down of UNHCR run #Hitsats & #Shimelba refugee camps. It cites as pretext, the camps’ proximity to Eritrea causing a safety risk. Satellite imagery revealed the camps, which sheltered ~25k Eritreans, were razed to the ground throughout January.

    https://twitter.com/ZekuZelalem/status/1359117586978508802

    #Ethiopie #réfugiés_érythréens #fermeture #camps #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés #asile #migrations #destruction

    ping @karine4 @isskein

    –—

    Sur le destruction des camps de réfugiés de Hitsas et Shimelba (nouvelle d’il y a 1 mois) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/893937

    Et sur les annonces de fermeture des camps en avril 2020 par cause de covid :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/847443

  • Refugees Come Under Fire as Old Foes Fight in Concert in Ethiopia

    Forces from neighboring Eritrea have joined the war in northern Ethiopia, and have rampaged through refugee camps committing human rights violations, officials and witnesses say.

    As fighting raged across the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia last month, a group of soldiers arrived one day at #Hitsats, a small hamlet ringed by scrubby hills that was home to a sprawling refugee camp of 25,000 people.

    The refugees had come from Eritrea, whose border lies 30 miles away, part of a vast exodus in recent years led by desperate youth fleeing the tyrannical rule of their leader, one of Africa’s longest-ruling autocrats. In Ethiopia, Eritrea’s longtime adversary, they believed they were safe.

    But the soldiers who burst into the camp on Nov. 19 were also Eritrean, witnesses said. Mayhem quickly followed — days of plunder, punishment and bloodshed that ended with dozens of refugees being singled out and forced back across the border into Eritrea.

    For weeks, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia has denied that soldiers from Eritrea — a country that Ethiopia once fought in an exceptionally brutal war — had entered Tigray, where Mr. Abiy has been fighting since early November to oust rebellious local leaders.

    In fact, according to interviews with two dozen aid workers, refugees, United Nations officials and diplomats — including a senior American official — Eritrean soldiers are fighting in Tigray, apparently in coordination with Mr. Abiy’s forces, and face credible accusations of atrocities against civilians. Among their targets were refugees who had fled Eritrea and its harsh leader, President Isaias Afwerki.

    The deployment of Eritreans to Tigray is the newest element in a melee that has greatly tarnished Mr. Abiy’s once-glowing reputation. Only last year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with Mr. Isaias. Now it looks like the much-lauded peace deal between the former enemies in fact laid the groundwork for them to make war against Tigray, their mutual adversary.

    “Abiy has invited a foreign country to fight against his own people,” said Awol Allo, a former Abiy supporter turned outspoken critic who lectures in law at Keele University in Britain. “The implications are huge.”

    Mr. Abiy insists he was forced to move his army quickly in Tigray after the region’s leaders, who had dominated Ethiopia for 27 years until Mr. Abiy took over in 2018, mutinied against his government. But in the early weeks of the fight, Ethiopian forces were aided by artillery fired by Eritrean forces from their side of the border, an American official said.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy’s campaign has been led by a hodgepodge of forces, including federal troops, ethnic militias and, evidently, soldiers from Eritrea.

    At Hitsats, Eritrean soldiers initially clashed with local Tigrayan militiamen in battles that rolled across the camp. Scores of people were killed, including four Ethiopians employed by the International Rescue Committee and the Danish Refugee Council, aid workers said.

    The chaos deepened in the days that followed, when Eritrean soldiers looted aid supplies, stole vehicles and set fire to fields filled with crops and a nearby forested area used by refugees to collect wood, aid workers said. The camp’s main water tank was riddled with gunfire and emptied.

    Their accounts are supported by satellite images, obtained and analyzed by The New York Times, that show large patches of newly scorched earth in and around the Hitsats camp after the Eritrean forces swept through.

    Later, soldiers singled out several refugees — camp leaders, by some accounts — bundled them into vehicles and sent them back across the border to Eritrea.

    “She’s crying, crying,” said Berhan Okbasenbet, an Eritrean now in Sweden whose sister was driven from Hitsats to Keren, the second-largest city in Eritrea, alongside a son who was shot in the fighting. “It’s not safe for them in Eritrea. It’s not a free country.”

    Ms. Berhan asked not to publish their names, fearing reprisals, but provided identifying details that The New York Times verified with an Ethiopian government database of refugees.

    Mr. Abiy’s spokeswoman did not respond to questions for this article. However, a few weeks ago the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, bluntly asked Mr. Abiy if Eritrean troops were fighting in his war. “He guaranteed to me that they have not entered Tigrayan territory,” Mr. Guterres told reporters on Dec. 9.

    Those denials have been met with incredulity from Western and United Nations officials.

    The Trump administration has demanded that all Eritrean troops immediately leave Tigray, a United States official said, citing reports of widespread looting, killings and other potential war crimes.

    It remains unclear how many Eritreans are in Tigray, or precisely where, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate diplomacy. A communications blackout over Tigray since Nov. 4 has effectively shielded the war from outside view.

    But that veil has slowly lifted in recent weeks, as witnesses fleeing Tigray or reaching telephones have begun to give accounts of the fighting, the toll on civilians and pervasive presence of Eritrean soldiers.

    In interviews, some described fighters with Eritrean accents and wearing Ethiopian uniforms. Others said they witnessed televisions and refrigerators being looted from homes and businesses. A European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential findings, said some of those stolen goods were being openly sold in the Eritrean capital, Asmara.
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    Three sources, including a different Western official, said they had received reports of an Eritrean attack on a church in Dinglet, in eastern Tigray, on Nov. 30. By one account, 35 people whose names were provided were killed.

    The reports of Eritrean soldiers sweeping through Tigray are especially jarring to many Ethiopians.

    Ethiopia and Eritrea were once the best of enemies, fighting a devastating border war in the late 1990s that cost 100,000 lives. Although the two countries are now officially at peace, many Ethiopians are shocked that the old enemy is roaming freely inside their borders.

    “How did we let a state that is hostile to our country come in, cross the border and brutalize our own people?” said Tsedale Lemma, editor in chief of the Addis Standard newspaper. “This is an epic humiliation for Ethiopia’s pride as a sovereign state.”

    Mr. Abiy has already declared victory in Tigray and claimed, implausibly, that no civilians have died. But last week his government offered a $260,000 reward for help in capturing fugitive leaders from the regional governing party, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front — a tacit admission that Mr. Abiy has failed to achieve a major stated goal of his campaign.

    In fact, the biggest winner so far may be his Eritrean ally, Mr. Isaias.

    Since coming to power in 1993, Mr. Isaias has won a reputation as a ruthless and dictatorial figure who rules with steely determination at home and who meddles abroad to exert his influence.

    For a time he supported the Islamist extremists of the Shabab in Somalia, drawing U.N. sanctions on Eritrea, before switching his loyalties to the oil-rich — and Islamist-hating — United Arab Emirates.

    Inside Eritrea, Mr. Isaias enforced a harsh system of endless military service that fueled a tidal wave of migration that has driven over 500,000 Eritreans — perhaps one-tenth of the population — into exile.

    The peace pact signed by the two leaders initially raised hopes for a new era of stability in the region. Ultimately, it amounted to little. By this summer, borders that opened briefly had closed again.

    But Mr. Abiy and Mr. Isaias remained close, bonded by their shared hostility toward the rulers of Tigray.

    They had different reasons to distrust the Tigrayans. For Mr. Abiy the Tigray People’s Liberation Front was a dangerous political rival — a party that had once led Ethiopia and, once he became prime minister, began to flout his authority openly.

    For Mr. Isaias, though, it was a deeply personal feud — a story of grievances, bad blood and ideological disputes that stretched back to the 1970s, when Eritrea was fighting for independence from Ethiopia, and Mr. Isaias joined with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to fight an Ethiopian Marxist dictator.

    Those differences widened after 1991, when Eritrea became independent and the Tigrayans had come to power in Ethiopia, culminating in a devastating border war.

    As tensions rose between Mr. Abiy and the T.P.L.F., Mr. Isaias saw an opportunity to settle old scores and to reassert himself in the region, said Martin Plaut, author of “Understanding Eritrea” and a senior research fellow at the University of London.

    “It’s typical Isaias,” said Mr. Plaut. “He seeks to project power in ways that are completely unimaginable for the leader of such a small country.”

    Aid groups warn that, without immediate access, Tigray will soon face a humanitarian disaster. The war erupted just as villagers were preparing to harvest their crops, in a region already grappling with swarms of locusts and recurring drought.

    Refugees are especially vulnerable. According to the United Nations, 96,000 Eritrean refugees were in Tigray at the start of the fight, although some camps have since emptied. An internal U.N. report from Dec. 12, seen by The Times, described the situation at Hitsats as “extremely dire,” with no food or water.

    Farther north at Shimelba camp, Eritrean soldiers beat refugees, tied their hands and left them under the sun all day, said Efrem, a resident who later fled to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

    “They poured milk on their bodies so they would be swarmed with flies,” he said.

    Later, Efrem said, the soldiers rounded up 40 refugees and forced them to travel back across the border, to Eritrea.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/28/world/africa/Ethiopia-Eritrea-Tigray.html
    #réfugiés #Tigré #Ethiopie #Erythrée #réfugiés #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #Hamdayet

    ping @reka @fil

    • Refugee Camps in Ethiopia Appear to Have Been Systematically Destroyed

      Satellite photos show military actors at the camps right after they were razed; the damage is far more extensive than previously reported.

      Two refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Tigray region were deliberately razed to the ground in attacks carried out between November and January, according to researchers who have been analyzing satellite images that highlight extensive destruction caused by the breakout of civil war in Ethiopia last year.

      Previous reports of satellite images obtained by the DX Open Network, a UK-based research and analysis organization, appeared to depict scorched earth attacks at the Hitsats and Shimelba refugee camps, which hosted over 25,000 refugees from neighboring Eritrea prior to the war. But recent analysis of the images indicates that the destruction was systemic, and residential areas, clinics, and schools were targeted in what appears to have been an attempt at preventing future use of the facilities. Further, a significant number of military vehicles and soldiers are visible in and around the camps soon after the time of the destruction, which appears to point to their complicity in the razing. While it is unconfirmed which military was present, signs also indicate it was the Ethiopian military, as the government continues to deny access to the camps. The damage also appears to now be much more extensive than originally reported, with over a thousand structures destroyed.

      “These cumulative damage assessments show a campaign to degrade, destroy both the Hitsats and Shimelba refugee camps from November 24 to January 27,” the DX Open Network said in a statement yesterday. “There are clear and consistent patterns across both camps over a two month period demonstrating that these refugee camps were systematically targeted, despite their protected humanitarian status.”

      The breakout of war between the former Tigray regional government and Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers has left thousands dead and internally displaced over 2.3 million people. Widespread destruction, the result of attacks targeting urban city centers, heritage sites, and refugee camps, has also been documented.

      The Hitsats and Shimelba camps had come under attack soon after the breakout of war, and fighting at the Hitsats camp between allied Ethiopian and Eritrean troops and forces loyal to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was reported in November. Refugees have been reportedly targeted and killed by both Tigrayan and Eritrean forces, while others were abducted and taken back to Eritrea. At least four humanitarian aid workers have been killed at the camps.

      The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, operated a total of four refugee camps hosting almost 100,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray. Despite this, representatives have been denied access to the two camps despite appealing repeatedly. The camps remain under heavy military guard, with satellite images taken on January 25 appearing to show a heavy concentration of soldiers at a school compound at the Shimelba site.

      “I am very worried for the safety and well-being of Eritrean refugees in those camps,” UNHCR head Filippo Grandi said in a January 14th statement. “The [Ethiopian] government has provided assurances that measures are being taken to minimize the impact of the conflict on civilians.”

      But the recent findings indicate that despite Ethiopia’s reassurances to the UNHCR, the destruction continued even in the days following Grandi’s statement.

      By January 27, the Shimelba camp had a total of 721 structures destroyed, according to satellite imagery obtained on that date, over 300 more than previously thought. As has been reported, fires were set simultaneously across the camp’s residential areas, with clear visible darkening indicating the burning of hundreds of homes between January 13 and January 16. Visible destruction of a compound run by the World Food Program (WFP) and a clinic operated by the Ethiopian government run Administration for Refugee & Returnee Affairs (ARRA), took place in early January.

      Two additional WFP structures were completely obliterated by January 5 as well. The landscape outside of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission-run high school was set ablaze, and the aftermath is clearly visible from space.

      “99 percent of [Shimelba’s damaged structures] were assessed as catastrophically or extensively damaged,” the organization said in a statement sent to VICE World News.

      Prior to the war, the Hitsats camp had schools, colleges, youth recreational centers, and even a beauty salon, funded by a consortium of local and international aid organizations. The DX Open Network told VICE World News that a total of 531 destroyed structures were tallied for Hitsats. Previous reporting put the figure around 400. Extensive damage to facilities run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), have also been recorded. The surrounding area was set alight, as was the case at similar structures across both camps. Images of smoke billowing into the air over residential dorms appear to indicate arson attacks on those structures too.

      Another compound also had the earth around it scorched, with at least eight identified cratering sites, consistent with damage caused by direct artillery rounds dating back to late November. The researchers indicated to VICE World News that this was evidence that the camp was shelled.

      “Also present in satellite imagery are groups of military-use vehicles, including a mechanised formation bivouacking in an elementary and secondary school compound within Shimelba Refugee Camp,” the DX Open Network told VICE World News. “The presence of military actors soon after the widespread razing of both camps raises questions as to whether these military actors are the same as the perpetrators of the fire-based attacks and other violence at and around the camps.”

      With the camp cut off from the outside world and out of food, survivors reportedly fled into the wilderness. At least 20,000 Eritrean refugees who had been at the two camps remain unaccounted for.

      Last week, Grandi himself traveled to Ethiopia. During his four day visit, he met with President Sahlework Zewde and got the chance to tour two of the UNHCR’s camps in Tigray. But he was denied the chance to visit Shimelba and Hitsats.

      Perhaps even more worrying, an Ethiopian government representative spoke to state media last week, and seemed to rule out the possibility of the two camps being reopened. According to the unnamed official, the two camps were “substandard,” and “inhospitable,” and had been turned into militia training sites for members of the Eritrean political opposition. No evidence for the claim was included in the report.

      “These events progressed in manner, timing, and consistency so similar to one another that it suggests that the same actor conducted the attacks on both camps with the same intent: to degrade both refugee camps’ ability to function, discourage any refugees from remaining, and ultimately prevent their use as refugee camps,” the DX Open Network told VICE World News. “In totality, these acts may constitute violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

      Last year, the Ethiopian government announced that it intended to close the Hitsats refugee camp citing costs, much to the chagrin of the UNHCR, which has argued the refugees, mostly escapees from unending military conscription in Eritrea, would have nowhere else to go. Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki has long criticized the existence of the camps, claiming that western states were using them to lure away potential recruits for his army. With the camps now rendered inhospitable, he appears to have had the last laugh.
      Tagged:

      https://www.vice.com/en/article/93wmbz/refugee-camps-in-ethiopia-appear-to-have-been-systematically-destroyed

  • Rapport thématique – Durcissements à l’encontre des Érythréen·ne·s : actualisation 2020

    Deux ans après une première publication sur la question (https://odae-romand.ch/rapport/rapport-thematique-durcissements-a-lencontre-des-erythreen%c2%b7ne%c2%b7), l’ODAE romand sort un second rapport. Celui-ci offre une synthèse des constats présentés en 2018, accompagnée d’une actualisation de la situation.

    Depuis 2018, l’ODAE romand suit de près la situation des requérant·e·s d’asile érythréen∙ne∙s en Suisse. Beaucoup de ces personnes se retrouvent avec une décision de renvoi, après que le #Tribunal_administratif_fédéral (#TAF) a confirmé la pratique du #Secrétariat_d’État_aux_Migrations (#SEM) amorcée en 2016, et que les autorités ont annoncé, en 2018, le réexamen des #admissions_provisoires de quelque 3’200 personnes.

    En 2020, le SEM et le TAF continuent à appliquer un #durcissement, alors que la situation des droits humains en #Érythrée ne s’est pas améliorée. Depuis près de quatre ans, les décisions de renvoi tombent. De 2016 à à la fin octobre 2020, 3’355 Érythréen·ne·s avaient reçu une décision de renvoi suite à leur demande d’asile.

    Un grand nombre de requérant·e·s d’asile se retrouvent ainsi débouté·e·s.

    Beaucoup des personnes concernées, souvent jeunes, restent durablement en Suisse, parce que très peu retournent en Érythrée sur une base volontaire, de peur d’y être persécutées, et qu’il n’y a pas d’accord de réadmission avec l’Érythrée. Au moment de la décision fatidique, elles perdent leur droit d’exercer leur métier ou de se former et se retrouvent à l’#aide_d’urgence. C’est donc à la constitution d’un groupe toujours plus important de jeunes personnes, exclues mais non renvoyables, que l’on assiste.

    C’est surtout en cédant aux pressions politiques appelant à durcir la pratique – des pressions renforcées par un gonflement des statistiques du nombre de demandes d’asile – que la Suisse a appréhendé toujours plus strictement la situation juridique des requérant∙e∙s d’asile provenant d’Érythrée. Sur le terrain, l’ODAE romand constate que ces durcissements se traduisent également par une appréciation extrêmement restrictive des motifs d’asile invoqués par les personnes. D’autres obstacles limitent aussi l’accès à un examen de fond sur les motifs d’asile. Au-delà de la question érythréenne, l’ODAE romand s’inquiète pour le droit d’asile au sens large. L’exemple de ce groupe montre en effet que l’application de ce droit est extrêmement perméable aux incitations venues du monde politique et peut être remaniée sans raison manifeste.

    https://odae-romand.ch/rapport/rapport-thematique-durcissements-a-lencontre-des-erythreen%c2%b7ne%c2%b7

    Pour télécharger le rapport :
    https://odae-romand.ch/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/RT_erythree_2020-web.pdf

    #rapport #ODAE_romand #Erythrée #Suisse #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #droit_d'asile #protection #déboutés #permis_F #COI #crimes_contre_l'humanité #service_militaire #travail_forcé #torture #viol #détention_arbitraire #violences_sexuelles #accord_de_réadmission #réadmission #déboutés #jurisprudence #désertion #Lex_Eritrea #sortie_illégale #TAF #justice #audition #vraisemblance #interprètes #stress_post-traumatique #traumatisme #trauma #suspicion #méfiance #procédure_d'asile #arbitraire #preuve #fardeau_de_la_preuve #admission_provisoire #permis_F #réexamen #santé_mentale #aide_d'urgence #sans-papiers #clandestinisation #violence_généralisée

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia resist camp closure amid COVID-19 fears

    ‘If the government tells us to go, then we have no choice but to go.’

    A plan by the Ethiopian government to relocate around 27,000 Eritrean refugees to two already overcrowded camps is yet to be shelved, despite concerns by aid organisations over both the risk of spreading COVID-19 and the confusion the stated policy has caused.

    The government announced plans in April to close #Hitsats refugee camp and relocate its residents to #Adi_Harush and #Mai_Aini, two other Eritrean camps also located in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

    The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned that both Adi Harush and Mai Aini are “already operating at full capacity”, and says that moving the Hitsats residents could “expose the refugees to the risk of COVID-19 infection and outbreak in the camps”.

    Aid workers say all four Eritrean refugee camps in Ethiopia, sheltering a total of about 100,000 people, are severely overcrowded, food is in short supply, and there is poor access to water – crucial for the additional sanitation needs as a result of COVID-19.

    Underlining the threat, a 16-year-old Eritrean girl in Adi Harush in June became the first refugee in the country to test positive for the coronavirus.

    Several other camp residents have since been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to an aid worker in Adi Harush, who asked for anonymity. Ethiopia’s ministry of health did not respond to a request for confirmation from The New Humanitarian.

    “Everyone is very afraid now,” said Tesfay, speaking by phone from Hitsats, who asked that a pseudonym is used to protect his identity.

    “We live with sometimes 15 or 16 people in one room,” he told TNH. “So we don’t know how to quarantine ourselves and it feels impossible to control our environment or protect ourselves from the disease.”

    Ethiopia has recorded close to 30,000 COVID-19 cases with around 530 deaths.

    Water woes

    Along with Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), UNHCR is working to instal hand-washing facilities, set up quarantine centres, and provide protection equipment to healthcare workers – but acknowledges that more needs to be done.

    Tigray is a bone-dry region where access to water is a perennial problem. While the average daily per capita water supply across the four camps is 19.5 litres, in Hitsats it is just 16 litres – well below the minimum humanitarian standard of 20 litres per person per day.

    Ann Encontre, the head of UNHCR in Ethiopia, said “efforts are being made to address the [water] shortage”, but the refugee agency has so far raised only 30 percent of its $385 million budget for 2020 – including the additional financing needed for its coronavirus response.

    “Because we are refugees, if the government tells us to go, then we have no choice but to go.”

    Established in 2013 in response to overcrowding in Adi Harush and Mai Aini, the Hitsats camp consists of more than 1,300 small concrete block shelters – measuring four metres by five metres – which serve as the cramped, shared living quarters for the refugees.

    Despite the bleak conditions, “none of us want to go to Mai Aini or Adi Harush,” said Tesfay, who fled Eritrea after being jailed for refusing compulsory military conscription. “But because we are refugees, if the government tells us to go, then we have no choice but to go.”
    In the dark

    Four months after the announcement, no relocations have happened, and UNHCR says it is yet to receive any official timeline for the closure of Hitsats, adding to the sense of confusion.

    “Neither information on the government’s plans around the future of Hitsats nor on the options available for the refugees living in the camp have been forthcoming,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

    “The lack of clarity makes it difficult, notably for humanitarian actors, to assess the impact and plan for any viable, safe alternatives,” Bader told TNH, noting that the uncertainty “risks creating significant confusion and fear for the Eritrean camp residents”.

    In a letter in April informing UNHCR and other aid organisations of the decision to relocate the Hitsats refugees, ARRA said there were “relatively quality services and many unoccupied shelters available” at Adi Harush and Mai Aini, and insisted the move would be carried out in a “very coordinated way that can ensure the safety and dignity of the persons of concern”.

    Encontre said her office has “not observed any expansion of shelters or other infrastructure in either Mai Aini or Adi Harush, or any other preparations to absorb the refugees from Hitsats”.

    ARRA cited a lack of funding from UNHCR – which helps finance the Ethiopian government agency – as one of the reasons behind its decision to close Hitsats.

    Although UNHCR has cut ARRA’s funding by 14 percent this year, “this would not justify a camp closure,” said Encontre.

    TNH reached out to ARRA numerous times for comment, but did not receive a response.
    Struggling with a refugee surge

    Ethiopia has a long tradition of hosting refugees, currently sheltering around 769,000. Eritrean arrivals are typically escaping persecution by a violent and authoritarian government, an economy that cannot provide enough jobs, or are looking to reunite with family members who have already made the journey.

    Last year, there was a surge of 70,000 refugees following a peace deal in 2018 normalising relations between the two countries who fought a two-year war that ended in 2000.

    The influx “overwhelmed key infrastructure in the three camps, particularly shelter, water, and sanitation facilities,” Encontre told TNH. “This is precisely why UNHCR maintains the position that the planned consolidation of Hitsats camp requires adequate planning and time, as well as resources, to be able to expand the necessary infrastructure before any large-scale movement can take place.”

    “Everyone in the camp is very scared to speak about what’s happening here.”

    ARRA has given the Hitsats refugees the option of moving from the camp to cities or towns as part of Ethiopia’s progressive “out of camp” policy. More than 20,000 Eritrean refugees live in urban areas, according to UNHCR.

    But Tesfay said most people in Hitsats, located about 45 kilometres from the nearest town of Shire, do not have the money or connections to survive outside the camp.

    As the months have passed since the closure announcement, distrust has grown between the refugees at Hitsats and ARRA staff, and officials have been accused of trying to pressure the camp’s refugee committee into persuading their fellow refugees to leave.

    “They are causing infighting and disturbing the camp,” Tesfay said of the ARRA staff in Hitsats. “Now, everyone in the camp is very scared to speak about what’s happening here.”

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/08/17/Ethiopia-Eritrea-refugee-camps-coronavirus

    #covid-19 #coronavirus #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Ethiopie #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens

    ping @ceped_migrinter_afrique

  • Eritrean refugees fight Afwerki’s regime

    Exiles from the northeast African country are using social media and TV satellites as weapons to resist the brutal government of Isaias Afwerki.

    “It doesn’t make sense for me to come to Malta and complain about Maltese society,” said Major Sium, a 35-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker. “I want to complain about my government. I want to talk about the regime that caused my displacement.”

    Sium sat at a restaurant in the town of Msida in Malta along with two other Eritrean asylum seekers. They were here to speak about their experiences in the small island nation. But they quickly changed the topic, retracing a haunting picture of their lives back in Eritrea – often referred to as the “North Korea of Africa” – shaped by indefinite and compulsory national conscription and wide-scale human rights abuses.

    “We are here because of an unelected regime that is steering the whole nation into becoming refugees or submissive subjects,” Sium says. Several buzzing fans propped on the walls spew hot and humid air over the table.

    “This is a government that rules the nation by fear. It enslaves and arrests its citizens and doesn’t have any regard for the values of human rights. As long as these issues that forced us to flee continue, we can never think about going back to Eritrea.”

    But Sium is not sitting idle. He has decided to do something about it.

    Like thousands of other Eritreans in exile or from the diaspora, Sium has joined a growing social movement aimed at toppling President Isaias Afwerki’s regime in Eritrea through social media campaigns that highlight the brutal and oppressive practices of his government, while encouraging other Eritreans to speak out.

    “I don’t live there anymore so they can’t hurt me,” Sium said. “They will instead target my family and they will try and hurt them to punish me. Of course, I am scared. But how much longer can we possibly go on living in fear?”

    Oppressive regime

    After fleeing into neighbouring Sudan, it took Sium 11 days to travel from Khartoum to Tripoli in Libya, where he boarded a wooden fishing boat in July 2013, along with hundreds of other migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, and took the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, where thousands have lost their lives over the years attempting to reach Europe.

    “We were all terrified,” Sium said. “We were in the boat for three days. The boat was so overcrowded. There was no space to move. People were getting sick and shouting. All you could see was endless blue sea on all sides of you. It was horrible.”

    After two days, the engine permanently broke down and the boat stopped moving. “People started going crazy. They began jumping into the sea because the heat was too unbearable,” Sium recounted. “People were panicking and praying. Some of the passengers began confessing their sins. It felt like judgement day.”

    Someone had a mobile phone and called an Eritrean priest living in Italy, who then alerted authorities. It took about 14 hours before the Italian and Maltese coast guards arrived to rescue the refugees and migrants. Sium was taken to Malta, where he was given subsidiary protection status – a temporary status that does not provide a path to permanent residency or citizenship.

    Sium never aspired to travel to Europe. “The only thought in my mind was getting out of the country and finding a place where I could have safety and liberty,” he said. Sium was a teacher in Eritrea’s national service and had always dreamed of fleeing the country. But it wasn’t until he was imprisoned for a year – accused of assisting a fellow teacher to flee – that he realised he no longer had a choice.

    Since 2001, Eritreans have lived under what Laetitia Bader, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), says is “probably the most oppressive regime in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. The countries fought a bloody war from 1998 until 2000. For the past two decades, tensions have continued between the countries.

    Hostilities with Ethiopia provided Afwerki an impetus to create a system of repression and authoritarianism that has continued today, in which independent media is banned, criticisms are prohibited and scores of political prisoners face appalling conditions and torture – oftentimes held incommunicado, according to rights groups.

    The core of this system of control is the country’s compulsory and indefinite national conscription, which allows the government to “hold a large proportion of the adult population hostage”, Bader said.

    In their final year of secondary school, both male and female students are sent for basic military training at the Sawa military academy, where rights groups have documented systematic abuse, torture, degrading punishments and harsh working conditions.

    Following the basic training, “they are sent either into the military for the rest of their working lives or into civilian service – and they have no control over or say in their deployment or assignments they get. They are often sent far away from home with little pay,” Bader said.

    Eritreans in national service need government permission to so much as visit the home of their families. This permission is rarely granted, according to Bader. If an Eritrean is lucky enough to obtain permission to travel to another area of the country, they are issued a permit that details their national service status and exactly where they’re allowed to go.

    Checkpoints set up in between towns and cities in Eritrea ensure that no one is moving without government permission. According to HRW, 15% of the population has fled the country in the past two decades – and hundreds continue to flee each month.

    Sium wanted nothing more than to forget about Eritrea. “I always thought politics were pointless,” he said. “In Eritrea no one is speaking out. The best thing you can do is save yourself by escaping and living the rest of your life as a refugee until you die.”

    “What’s the point of speaking about a story that I left behind? It would be better for me to focus on where I am now and what I want to do now,” he added.

    Sium, along with 30-year-old Mazelo Gebrezgabhier, another Eritrean asylum seeker, had high hopes of being resettled in the United States. But after US President Donald Trump took office and froze the country’s refugee resettlement programme, their dreams of obtaining a normal life were shattered.

    “I’ve just been living and waiting for my turn to be settled in another country. I was told I was going to be resettled in America,” Sium said. “But after Trump got elected, it all suddenly vanished.

    “So we decided we needed to do something to change the situation back in our country. No matter how far you flee, it’s never the end. We decided we should start organising the refugees here to start speaking out.”

    Various nonprofits, civil society organisations and groups have emerged in the diaspora over the years to raise awareness and speak out against Afwerki’s human rights abuses. Last year, all the various organisations, individuals and groups active in the movement united under one hashtag: #yiakl or “Enough!” in Tigrinya, a language widely spoken in Eritrea.

    “We decided to create an umbrella movement that unites everyone,” Semhar Ghebreslassie, a prominent activist in the movement, explained. “Regardless of your politics or your ideologies, as long as you oppose the regime and want changes in our country then you are part of the movement.”

    Social media campaigns have involved Eritreans posting videos on social media of themselves reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Tigrinya. In the #yiakl movement, Eritrean activists are identifying themselves, speaking out against the regime and then encouraging others to do the same.

    “I chose to use my real name because I want other people to come out from hiding and use their real names,” Sium said. “I want my people to know that we shouldn’t be scared to be doing what is right for our country.”

    “All of us, including me, have been really scared to use our real names when criticising the regime. But we need personal liberation. We have to stand up and think for ourselves. We need to stop thinking that the regime is following and watching us wherever we go.”

    He added: “The more we come together, the weaker the regime will be. This is how we are going to defeat it. We need to identify ourselves and be courageous if we want to change our country.”

    Sium and Gebrezgabhier are now organising the Eritrean asylum seeking community in Malta to also join the movement.

    “We realised that becoming refugees ourselves would not stop the problem of people becoming refugees,” Sium said. “The only reason that more than a million Eritreans have ended up as refugees in foreign lands is because of our silence.”

    In the blood

    Ghebreslassie fled Eritrea with just the clothes on her back. She embarked on the journey on 17 December 2014 – the day of her 28th birthday.

    Ghebreslassie, now 32, and a 17-year-old boy were led by a local smuggler across fields of maize and sorghum. They walked nonstop for two days and three nights, hiding behind bushes and mountains to avoid detection by armed Eritrean soldiers at the border, until they arrived in the first town in Sudan.

    “I’m not usually a girl who is scared of anything,” Ghebreslassie said. “There is a shoot-to-kill policy at the Eritrean border for those who flee. I kept thinking I was going to die on the same day that I was born. I was feeling amazed at the coincidence of that. You’re thinking of surviving and dying at the same time.”

    Her voice begins to crack as she fights back tears. “I kept thinking about my family. I was scared that if they caught me they would take my family to … prison.”

    Ghebreslassie stayed in Khartoum for about a year before a smuggler fixed her visa to France, allowing her to reunite with her siblings in Sweden, where she was eventually granted refugee status.

    Ghebreslassie was active against the regime even while she was in hiding for two and a half years in the Eritrean capital city of Asmara, after fleeing her teacher post in the national service. Eritrea is widely considered to be the least technologically connected and the most censored country on Earth.

    Only 1.3% of the population in Eritrea has access to the internet. In Asmara, there are only a few internet cafes, all of which are monitored by security agents. Eritreans are usually too fearful to read or open an opposition website because it could lead to interrogations or arrests.

    But Ghebreslassie was one of the few Eritreans willing to risk it.

    She got a job at an internet cafe in Asmara for a few months and stumbled upon the various groups abroad that were speaking out against Afwerki’s regime on social media. She became an informant for two opposition media outlets based in the United States and France and shared first-hand information on the happenings inside the country.

    But Eritrean soldiers often carry out “roundups”, where they search for national service deserters. “When you’re hiding, you can’t move from city to city because of the checkpoints. But even in the city, they sometimes come inside people’s homes, but mostly they stop people on the streets to check to see if they have a permit to travel,” Ghebreslassie explained.

    At times Ghebreslassie was not able to leave her home for days; other times she was forced to sleep at work in fear she would be caught in the roundups. Eventually, she decided to flee the country entirely.

    The farther she got from Eritrea, the louder Ghebreslassie’s voice became. In Khartoum, she regularly met with other Eritrean activists who had fled and when she arrived in Sweden, she quickly became an outspoken and prominent member of the movement on social media.

    “Once I left Eritrean soil, I couldn’t stop speaking out. It feels like it’s in my blood. The first time I was able to access wifi was in Sweden, and then I became very involved in politics.”

    Ghebreslassie has since helped organise scores of social media campaigns and protests against Afwerki’s regime, including the historic 2016 demonstration in Geneva in which thousands of Eritreans from the diaspora rallied in support of a UN commission report that accused the regime of committing “crimes against humanity” and “enslaving” up to 400 000 people.
    Afraid of their own shadows

    According to the Eritrean activists, the biggest obstacle for the movement is overcoming the fear that has followed them from Eritrea. “There is still a lot of mistrust among us,” Sium said. “There are still [pro-regime] informants among us. We are scared to speak out against Afwerki to anyone. This fear has followed us to Malta.”

    Amnesty International released a report last year detailing the harassment by the Eritrean government and its supporters against Eritrean activists in the diaspora, which included activists being assaulted, harassed and threatened.

    Ghebreslassie herself has been barraged with death threats since becoming a visible and vocal member of the movement. “They tell me to stop or else they will find me and kill me,” she said.

    Bader concurred, saying that “the government definitely has a long arm and it has different ways of maintaining control and monitoring individuals outside the country”. There have also been concerns of Eritrean translators and interpreters in the European asylum systems being security agents and government collaborators.

    Activists also face serious risks of their family members being targeted back in Eritrea, Bader said. But, according to Ghebreslassie, the more activists come out from hiding, using their real names and identities, the more others are encouraged to do the same.

    “The fear is overwhelming,” Ghebreslassie said. “People are afraid of their own shadows. It’s very difficult for us to convince people to come out and speak out. But I tell people that if there are only a few people speaking out, then of course the regime will target our families. But if there are many of us, how will the regime hurt all of our families?”

    Gebrezgabhier said: “I am very worried about my family. But the fear doesn’t matter anymore. The regime is making all of us into refugees. We can’t tolerate living in fear anymore.”

    According to 23-year-old Vannessa Tsehaye, the founder of the rights organisation One Day Seyoum – named after her uncle who has been imprisoned in Eritrea since 2001 – a major turning point for the movement was the 2018 peace deal between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Afwerki. For 20 years, Eritreans were told that these restrictive measures on the population were necessary to ensure the country’s national security amid tensions with Ethiopia.

    But although telephone lines and flights between the two countries were restored and the border temporarily opened for a few months – before gradually being sealed again – nothing changed for the people of Eritrea. The number of Eritreans participating in the movement began to surge.

    According to activists, even dedicated regime supporters have begun changing teams, enraged by what they see as a two-decade-long lie by Afwerki to justify keeping hundreds of thousands of Eritreans in bondage.

    Ghebreslassie said that even a regime supporter who assaulted her in 2017 during a confrontation in Sweden has since apologised and joined the opposition movement following the peace deal.

    Last year, Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the deal – to the disdain of Eritrean activists. Tsehaye, who spoke out against the Eritrean regime at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last year, said that awarding Ahmed the prize showed “huge disrespect to the people of Eritrea”.

    “All it has done is legitimise an extremely brutal regime on the international stage,” she said, pointing out that following the peace deal the UN lifted an arms embargo in place since 2009 on Eritrea and the UN General Assembly elected Eritrea to be one of the 47 member states of the HCR.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_g9RysC5no&feature=emb_logo

    Whispers of resistance

    If fear is a defining hurdle for the activists in the diaspora, it takes the form of a straitjacket for those still living inside the country.

    Bader said that there is “definitely no open criticism or public or civil organisations” inside Eritrea. Besides almost “unheard of” protests in 2017 when the Eritrean government attempted to nationalise the Islamic school system in Asmara, “you don’t have public protests”, Bader said, and public gatherings of more than three people are completely banned.

    Anyone who publicly criticises the government is arrested and held in indefinite incommunicado detention without charge or trial, according to rights groups. Therefore, the movement is not only aimed at encouraging those in exile to speak out, but also those back in the belly of the beast.

    “We want to break the fear of our people back in our country,” Ghebreslassie said. “There’s so much fear. If you speak up you either get imprisoned or killed. But this has been going on for too long. If we don’t sacrifice anything we won’t gain anything. So we’re trying to break through the fear across the nation.”

    However, the limited access to the internet in Eritrea, along with the government’s strict censorship, makes the use of social media less effective at galvanising those still inside the country.

    Consequently, Eritrean activists in exile, part of the #yiakl movement, did something extraordinary: they established ERISAT (“Justice”), an opposition station that broadcasts into homes in Eritrea. It’s the first opposition satellite that has made a breakthrough into Eritrean airspace. Assenna Satellite TV, another opposition satellite TV station, followed suit.

    According to Ghebreslassie, the TV programmes are meant to communicate the campaigns and activities of the Eritrean activists in the diaspora and bring those still in the country into the discussions and debates.

    “But it’s not just about broadcasting our activities,” Ghebreslassie explained. “We also send personalised messages to our people in our country, like the police and army forces, and try to convince them to stand by their people and against the regime.”

    Afwerki’s government, seemingly in panic, has attempted to jam the channels’ airwaves.

    According to Ghebreslassie, subtle whispers of resistance are starting to be heard from Eritrea. Small groups of university students have organised themselves and distributed pamphlets that echo the sentiments of the #yiakl movement. Graffiti has appeared on the streets of Asmara that calls for an end to national conscription.

    “It’s small groups doing small things,” Ghebreslassie said. “But it doesn’t even sound real to me. This is a huge step for Eritrea.” Ghebreslassie believes this is a direct result of the movement’s satellite TV channels.

    Analysts have also pointed out that Afwerki seems to be increasingly concerned about the possibility of protests. Last year, he shut down health centres run by the Catholic Church, reportedly owing to the bishops criticising him, and carried out waves of random arrests.

    He also blocked social media sites in the country and closed internet cafes following the revolution in neighbouring Sudan. Analysts believe Afwerki is fearful that the revolutionary ideologies of the Sudanese could spread to Eritrea.

    Despite the long road ahead, the Eritrean activists are not giving up.

    “I’m not doing this just for my people,” Ghebreslassie said. “I’m doing this for myself. I was not supposed to be living here in Sweden. This is not my home. I’m supposed to be living in my own country and doing the jobs that I choose and eating the foods that I like.

    “We were robbed of so many of our rights,” she continued. “I still feel it inside. I feel like half of my life was stolen by the regime. I’m fighting to reclaim my rights from the regime and for all of those who have died by its hands and who can never be brought back to life and for those who are rotting in prison.”

    Her voice cracks again. She takes a deep breath and tries to steady it.

    “I’m doing this for my country because I love my country so much. All of us do. We want to change our country so that we can finally go home and live normal lives.”

    https://www.newframe.com/long-read-eritrean-refugees-fight-afwerkis-regime
    #Erythrée #Afwerki #diaspora #résistance #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #lutte

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Calais : des exilés érythréens portent plainte contre des CRS pour violences policières

    Ils accusent les forces de l’ordre de violences et de racisme. Cinq plaintes ont été déposées à Calais, dans le nord de la France, par des exilés érythréens. Ils dénoncent une compagnie de CRS présente sur la zone de Calais à la fin du mois de mars.

    C’est le regard triste et les traits chiffonnés que Phily accepte de revenir sur ce qui s’est passé le 31 mars dernier. Alors qu’il tente de monter dans une voiture pour espérer rejoindre l’Angleterre, cet Érythréen de 18 ans est interpellé par des CRS. La suite, ce sont des insultes et des violences physiques. « Ils m’ont frappé avec leurs matraques. Ils étaient au moins quatre ou cinq sur moi. Je m’évanouissais. J’étais inconscient. Ils ont frappé fort sur ma poitrine et dans mon dos. J’ai encore du mal à respirer. »

    Au total, huit faits de violences policières ont été recensés et cinq plaintes ont été déposées. La communauté érythréenne présente à Calais a écrit une lettre ouverte à la préfecture du département.

    Il y a déjà eu trop d’#humiliations, dénonce Phily. « Quand on croise la police nationale, ça se passe normalement, ils nous demandent juste de partir… Mais certains #CRS, ce sont des fous. Ils nous gazent et nous frappent automatiquement. Je ne suis pas un criminel, je suis juste là parce que je veux un futur, parce que je veux aller à l’école et vivre en paix. »

    La préfecture du Pas-de-Calais a ouvert une enquête administrative interne. L’Inspection générale de la police nationale va être saisie. Quant aux CRS incriminés, ils assurent de leur côté avoir été victimes de caillassages à plusieurs reprises.

    https://twitter.com/Utopia_56/status/1250045125272764416?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

    http://www.rfi.fr/fr/france/20200416-calais-exil%C3%A9s-%C3%A9rythr%C3%A9ens-portent-plainte-crs-violences-p

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Calais #France #violences_policières #justice #plainte #réfugiés_érythréens

    ping @davduf @isskein @karine4

    • #Lettre_ouverte de la communauté érythréenne de la jungle de Calais

      Voici la lettre ouverte que la communauté Érythréene résidant à la Jungle de Calais a confié à Human Rights Observers et Utopia 56. Suite à des faits de harcèlement et violences policières ciblées vers ce camps, cinq plaintes au procureur de Boulogne, cinq saisines IGPN et cinq saisines au Défenseur des Droits ont été déposées.
      Les habitant.e.s du camps souhaitent que cette lettre soit diffusée le plus largement possible. Ils.elles sont également ouvert.e.s à l’idée de parler à la presse :

      “Avant de commencer à écrire notre plainte concernant les événements suivants impliquant des CRS, nous souhaitons dire quelques mots à propos de nous mêmes,
      Nous sommes des exilés venant d’Érythrée. Nous sommes ici pour la simple raison de vouloir vivre notre vie en sécurité, et avoir un futur. Nous ne sommes pas des criminels, nous sommes des migrants. Nous sommes des innocents qui essayons d’aller en Angleterre.

      Notre plainte concerne une compagnie de CRS et leurs actions impulsives et agressives à notre égard.
      Ils ne nous considèrent pas comme des êtres humains. Ils nous insultent de noms tels que monkey (singe), bitch (salope), etc…
      Et, depuis quelques semaines, ils ont commencé à menacer nos vies en nous battant dès que l’occasion se présentait à eux. Lorsque par exemple ils trouvaient un groupe de deux ou trois personnes marchant vers la distribution de nourriture, ou dans nos tentes, lorsque nous dormions.
      Ils accélèrent dans leurs véhicules en roulant dans notre direction, comme s’ils voulaient nous écraser. Ils ont également emmené des gens avec eux dans des endroits éloignés de Calais, et les ont frappé jusqu’à ce qu’ils perdent connaissance.
      Ils cachent leurs codes personnels (note : numéro RIO) lorsqu’ils commettent ces actions illégales envers nous. Lorsqu’ils se rendent compte que nous filmons, ils s’attaquent à nous et cassent nos téléphones.

      Voici une liste de tous les actes violents auxquels nous avons été soumis récemment. Tous ces événements ont eu lieu à Calais et ont été commis par des agents CRS :

      26 mars 2020, 15h30 : une personne a été gazée et frappée par les CRS avoir s’être vue refusé l’entrée du supermarché Carrefour
      27 mars 2020, 14h00 : deux personnes qui marchaient près du Stade de l’Épopée pour se rendre à la distribution de nourriture ont été passées à tabac par les CRS. L’une des victimes a eu le bras cassé suite à cette agression. (compagnie 8)
      27 mars 2020 : deux personnes qui marchaient près du stade de BMX pour aller à la distribution de nourriture ont été frappées et gazées par les CRS (compagnie 8)
      28 mars 2020, 9h00 : une personne qui marchait dans la rue Mollien a été jetée au sol et passée à tabac par les CRS (compagnie 8)
      28 mars 15h00 : deux personnes marchant près du stade de BMX pour aller à la distribution de nourriture ont été frappées et gazées par les CRS (compagnie 8)
      28 mars 2020, 15h30 : une personne qui marchait seule Quai Lucien L’heureux et se rendant à son campement a été passée à tabac et frappée à l’arrière de la tête avec une matraque télescopique par les CRS (compagnie 8)
      28 mars 2020 : quatre personnes qui marchaient près du stade de BMX ont été passées à tabac par les CRS, à l’aide de matraques télescopiques (compagnie 8)
      31 mars 2020, 12h50 : deux personnes sorties d’un camion ont été passées à tabac Rue des Sablières. Une personne se plaignait d’une douleur importante au bras, la deuxième a été laissée quasiment inconsciente et a dû être évacuée vers l’hôpital en ambulance. (compagnie 8).”

      La communauté des réfugiés érythréens de Calais

      http://www.utopia56.com/en/actualite/lettre-ouverte-communaute-erythreenne-jungle-calais
      #campement

  • Portrait of a crisis: Asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv facing coronavirus

    The spread of COVID-19 has left asylum seekers in Israel out of work, crammed into uninhabitable apartments with exorbitant rents, and desperate for government assistance.

    Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in Israel, the plight of African asylum seekers, who are not entitled to assistance from the Israeli government, has been amplified. Even before the outbreak — in the absence of a supporting family or savings, and under the shadow of the so-called “deposit law,” which since 2017 has docked 20 percent of asylum seekers’ salaries — their situation was not easy.

    Earlier this month, an independent survey published by a committee of Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel revealed that 50 percent of Eritrean asylum seekers are in need of financial assistance, and more than 40 percent are unable to pay rent.

    The past two months have seen countless families moving into one-bedroom apartments together. These are families in which both parents have lost their jobs and are living at home with their children, or who are only able to survive because of the assistance they receive from non-profit organizations and private citizens.

    A visit to Eritrean families living in south Tel Aviv paints a bleak picture, highlighting the faces and names behind these statistics. They all had one startling message in common: they miss the pre-crisis days. Despite facing racism, expensive rent for uninhabitable apartments, and low wages for jobs Israelis wouldn’t even consider, they look forward to returning to the old reality.

    The asylum seeker community has been praising the High Court’s decision last Thursday to strike down the deposit law. Several people told me that if not for the restrictions, they would be out celebrating in the streets.

    Asylum seekers working in food distribution and other essential jobs since the beginning of the crisis hope that once their deposit is released, they will be able to focus on helping families in need. Those who get their deposit back may even be able to help friends and family who have lost their jobs.

    Despite the High Court decision, it will take at least a month for some asylum seekers to start getting their money back, and it is unclear how long the process will take. Meanwhile, the non-profit groups that support the asylum seeker community are continuing their solidarity activities for the many in need.
    ‘We have to be strong’


    Afwerkei (33), Tsaga (31), and their children Abraham (8), Jerusalem (6), Farzagi (3), and Surrey (2) have been in Israel for 10 years. Afwerkei worked in construction and in a store, while Tsaga worked at a kindergarten, but now they are both unemployed. They live in a studio apartment in south Tel Aviv.

    Afwerki: “We are happy about the court decision, but we are afraid the government will try to bypass the deposit decision. In my case, immigration (the Interior Ministry — O.Z.) told me that my boss started paying in the first few months, but then stopped. It’s hard to tell if he paid everything. I can only check the next time I go to renew my visa, because it is difficult to see in real time what is really going on with these funds.

    “If I was able to work, I wouldn’t need any help and I would get along fine. Some people brought us food and the landlord gave us some discounts on the rent, but we cannot continue like this. The situation is difficult. We pay income tax and for health insurance, but when help is needed, we get nothing from the state. The deposit money will help to deal with the emergency that has fallen on us.

    “This is not our country, so we need to be strong. And the truth? Asylum seekers are following the instructions more strictly than the Israelis. There are no people on the street, and when people go out shopping, they wear masks and gloves.”
    ‘We have no expectations from politicians’

    Madhani (38) is married and a father of two who has been in Israel for 13 years. He worked in the kitchen of a cafe in central Tel Aviv, and since the crisis began, his job has been on hold. His wife, who worked in a kindergarten, was also put on leave. (Oren Ziv)

    Madhani (38) is married and a father of two who has been in Israel for 13 years. He worked in the kitchen of a cafe in central Tel Aviv, and since the crisis began, his job has been on hold. His wife, who worked in a kindergarten, was also put on leave.

    Madhani: “Releasing the deposit fee is a big decision, it’s really a holiday. The money that will be returned will help during this emergency. It will allow people to lend each other money and help those in the community. People are still worried that it will be a long process to release the money, and we don’t know how it will work — whether the forms will be in Arabic or in Tigrinya, and whether they can be filled out from home or not. But let’s hope for the best.

    “From the beginning, we had no expectations from the politicians in Israel, only from the citizens, like during the time of deportation (the attempt to deport asylum seekers to a third state in 2018 — O.Z). Israelis turned out in the streets to protest and prevented it. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. Since the beginning of the crisis, many people have reached out and donated, and there is organizing happening in the community to support families in need of food.

    “I’d like to meet the children of Miri Regev, Moshe Kahlon, and Aryeh Deri, and tell them my story. The politicians don’t talk about what’s really happening out here.”
    ‘I never asked for help from anyone’

    From right: Tamarza, a single mother (31) and her children Lydia (10), Hazravi (6), and Nabad (4). Left: Zahab (30), single mother, and her daughter, Jerusalem (6). Both women have been in the country for about 10 years. Tamarza worked in a food factory before the crisis and is not currently working. Zahab was unemployed before the crisis.

    Tamarza and Zahab’s families moved into a one-room apartment in south Tel Aviv at the start of the crisis to share the rent, keep the children together, and share the food donations they received. They all sleep in the living room on a double mattress and a folding bed.

    Tamarza: “When I was working I could get along, but now we have a month and a half with the children at home and it is very difficult. It’s stressful because it’s unclear when we will return to work. I never asked for help from anyone over the years, I worked from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and I took care of the children alone.”

    10-year-old Lydia, who made the journey to Israel through the Sinai Desert at an early age, adds: “It’s hard for me that there is no school. Distance learning is hard because I understand less. I miss my friends. Some of their parents are working because they do essential jobs. Before the coronavirus, mom would go to work and I would wake up in the morning, dress my brothers, and take them to kindergarten and school. In the afternoon, I would pick them up and watch them until mom came home from work.”
    ‘I’m lucky to be left with one job’

    Eden (34), a single mother and her daughter Efrata (6). Not pictured: her children Nab (16) and Sasson (13). The family lives in a two-room apartment in Ramat Gan. Eden has been in the country for 11 years. Because of the coronavirus crisis, she lost two of her three jobs. She works part-time at ASSAF, an aid organization for asylum seekers in Israel.

    Eden: “I was glad when I heard about the deposit law, but I’m not sure how and when [the money will be released] because I don’t trust them. If it does happen, it will take a long time. Even after the decision three years ago, they only returned part of the wages (14 percent of the deposit – O.Z.). It would be really good if they do actually return it.

    “The money I earn today is just enough for rent and bills. I’m lucky that out of three jobs I have one left. Other single mothers are having a harder time because they have no work at all. I bought our food for Easter with the help of my son’s school and the municipality.

    “I have some savings and friends are helping, but we don’t know how long this will last. The Israelis help us, but we have no expectations of the government — even though we live here — and if we die, it is their responsibility. That’s why from the beginning we asked that they give us our money back.”
    ‘People could have improved their lives’

    Niatt (29), a single mother, and her children Yafa (9), Osher (4), and Morel (2), have been in the country for 13 years. The family lives in a two-room apartment. Before the crisis, Niatt was supposed to start working in a clothing store, but the store closed and she was left without work.

    Niatt: “I have been working at informal jobs for the last decade, so I have no money in the deposit. But I am glad it will help other people in the community. If they had given us [refugee] status a short time after we arrived, people could have started their lives and improved their situation relatively quickly, and then we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today.”
    ‘We are afraid we won’t be treated like citizens’

    Helen (29), Samson (38), and their daughter Bet-El (6). They have been in the country for 9 and 10 years, respectively. Prior to the crisis, Helen worked in an office and Samson worked at a restaurant. They both lost their jobs in early March.

    “From an emotional point of view, it is really stressful, and as refugees it is hard for us to understand the law. We do not have health insurance, we do not always work, and there is always the fear that we will not receive the same treatment as citizens if we fall ill. Financially, we both have no income right now. We are living off our savings and we have food to eat. But who knows what will happen in two weeks?”
    ‘I haven’t left the house in a month and a half’

    Taz (45) has been in Israel for 13 years. He lives in a tiny, one-room apartment. He worked in a restaurant bar before the pandemic and is now unemployed.

    “At first it was fine, but I’ve been home for a month and a half. I haven’t gone anywhere except out on the terrace. It’s hard for me, but I know that for families with three and four children who live in a small apartments it is even harder. I don’t know how much money I have in the deposit fund, but in any case it will help me a little, as well as many others.”
    ‘They won’t let us live’

    Samravit (29), a single mother, and her children Eliad (9), Natnim (7), Afilon (5), and Blessing (6 months), who is the daughter of friends of the family and is under Samravit’s care. They have been in the country for nine years. Samravit worked in a pre-school before the crisis and is currently unemployed.

    “It’s very difficult at home. We only go out once a day to a park 100 meters from the house. We weren’t prepared for the coronavirus and we didn’t know it would come. There are many single mothers like me who, before the crisis, made a few thousand shekels and could just manage, but now it’s really hard and they just won’t let us live. It hurts me that we work, pay taxes, and get nothing back. The state should at least distribute food to the families who need it.”
    ‘I’m scared that my workplace won’t re-open’

    Ngassi (35) and his daughters, Orian (6) and Deborah (3). Ngassi has been in Israel for 10 years and lives in a single bedroom apartment. He lost his job at a cafe in central Tel Aviv as the crisis began. His wife continues to work as a house cleaner.

    “I’ve been home for a month and a half and don’t know when I’ll be back to work. I teach the girls at home, the parents send us activities via WhatsApp. Regarding the deposit, it’s our money. Releasing it will give us air to breathe and not collapse. Even those who managed to get through this month aren’t sure what will happen next. I am afraid that even if the crisis ends, maybe the place where I was working will not recover and won’t reopen.”

    Sigal Avivi and Yael Ravid helped assisted in putting together this article.

    https://www.972mag.com/portrait-asylum-seekers-tel-aviv-coronavirus
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Tel_Aviv #Israël #covid-19 #coronavirus #réfugiés_érythréens
    ping @thomas_lacroix

  • Ethiopia plans to close Eritrean refugee camp despite concerns

    Residents express deep concern about planned relocation as aid groups say the move risks exposure to #COVID-19.

    Ethiopia is stepping up preparations to go ahead with a planned closure of a camp for Eritrean refugees, despite concerns among residents and calls by aid agencies to halt their relocation over coronavirus fears.

    Home to some 26,000 people, including some 1,600 minors, #Hitsats is one of four camps in the northern Tigray region hosting nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

    Earlier this month, Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) announced to residents in Hitsats camp that the federal government had decided to relocate them to Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps, or offer them the possibility to live in towns.

    The plan has yet to be executed amid the coronavirus pandemic, but officials say preparations continue.

    “We are ready to start the relocation at any time,” Eyob Awoke, deputy director general of ARRA, told Al Jazeera, noting that the declaration of a state of emergency last week due to the pandemic had forced authorities “to timely adapt the initial plan”.

    “External factors are hampering us,” Eyob added, “but we can start with small numbers”.

    “Hitsats refugees are suffering a lot from shortage of water, shelter and access to electricity,” Eyob said. “Merging of these camps is mainly required to ensure efficient and effective use of available resources.”
    COVID-19 risk

    The timeline and measures for the closure have not been shared with the UNHCR and other partners.

    Yet, there are concerns that Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps are almost full and lack the infrastructure needed to cope with new arrivals, including sub-standard access to water.

    In a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Friday, the UNHCR urged the government to put on hold any relocation effort, saying it risked making refugees vulnerable to COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

    “Any large-scale movement now will expose the refugees to risk of COVID-19 outbreak in camps”, the agency said.

    ARRA assured that the transfer of the refugees would be carried out in a coordinated way. As of April 19, Ethiopia had 108 confirmed coronavirus cases, including three deaths.

    In a letter sent to the UN at the end of March, refugees in Hitsats camp had also expressed deep concern about the prospect of the camp’s closure.

    “We are in a deep fear, psychological stress and we need protection”, read the letter, which was seen by Al Jazeera.

    “We feel threatened. They told us that if we decide to stay, we will lose any kind of support,” a refugee living in Hitsats camp told Al Jazeera.

    Currently, only critical humanitarian and life-saving activities are running at the camp, as well as awareness-raising activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the beginning of the month, the UNHCR and the World Food Programme reported that residents in Hitsats received a food ration for April.
    Eritrean refugees are also allowed to live outside camps, but many do not want to leave Hitsats.

    Other refugees eventually settle in the capital, Addis Ababa, but struggle to make a living and are highly dependent on external aid.

    So far this year, ARRA has issued 5,000 official permits for refugees to live outside camps, according to the UNHCR, mainly for Eritreans in Hitsats and other camps in Tigray.

    “In light of the current rush to close the camp, one is compelled to ponder whether the decision is more political as opposed to an operational one?” said Mehari Taddele Maru, a professor at the European University Institute.

    The UNHCR, in its statement to Al Jazeera, said it could not speculate about the government’s rationale for closing the camp.

    In a letter dated April 9, 2020 that was seen by Al Jazeera, ARRA communicated to all humanitarian partners that new arrivals from neighbouring Eritrea would no longer be offered “prima facie” refugee status, revisiting a longstanding policy of automatically granting all Eritrean asylum seekers the right to stay.

    “We will have to narrow down the criteria for accepting Eritrean asylum claims, they have to demonstrate a personal fear of persecution based on political or religious action or association or military position”, Eyob said.

    “Today, the situation is not like before, many people are coming to Ethiopia and going back to Eritrea.”

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sparked an historic rapprochement with Eritrea soon after taking office in April 2018, restoring ties that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war. His efforts in ending two decades of hostilities were cited by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as one of the main reasons for awarding Abiy the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

    The rapprochement, however, has yet to lead to the full normalisation of the two neighbours’ ties, while activists’ hopes that the peace process would lead to major policy reforms within Eritrea have been largely dashed. The long-criticised universal conscription is still in place while crippling restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression continue.

    “We cannot return to Eritrea”, a refugee in Hitsats told Al Jazeera.

    “For Eritreans, fleeing is one of the only real options to escape their government’s repression”, Laetitia Bader, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said.

    “Any policy shifts are definitely a risk to Eritreans’ right to asylum,” Bader said.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/4/19/ethiopia-plans-to-close-eritrean-refugee-camp-despite-concerns

    #camps_de_réfugiés #fermeture #Ethiopie #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #asile #migrations #réfugiés #camps #coronavirus

    ping @ceped_migrinter_afrique

    • L’Ethiopie change sa politique migratoire vis-à-vis des réfugiés érythréens

      L’Ethiopie a discrètement changé sa politique envers les 170 000 réfugiés érythréens qui vivent sur son sol. Ils obtenaient jusque-là une protection automatique, dès lors qu’ils avaient fui leur pays. Tel n’est plus le cas aujourd’hui, satisfaisant ainsi une ancienne revendication du régime érythréen.

      Dans les camps le long de la frontière érythréenne, c’est l’inquiétude. Sans déclaration officielle, désormais l’agence éthiopienne des réfugiés n’accorde plus de protection systématique aux fugitifs qui arrivent d’Erythrée. Certains nouveaux arrivants sont dûment enregistrés, mais d’autres, comme les mineurs, sont simplement écartés, selon de nombreux témoignages.

      Un réfugié du camp de #Hitsas où vivent plus de 10 000 Erythréens explique par ailleurs que les autorités leur ont annoncé en mars que le camp serait bientôt fermé. Il dit qu’il ne sait pas quoi faire, sinon tenter sa chance vers la Libye.

      « Il y a peut-être un millier d’enfants seuls dans le camp, déplore en outre un humanitaire sur place. Les chasser revient à les offrir aux trafiquants. »

      Une vieille revendication de l’Erythrée

      Selon un porte-parole de l’agence éthiopienne des réfugiés cité par Associated Press, la protection se fera désormais au cas par cas, pour toutes les nationalités. Selon lui, l’ancienne pratique était « incontrôlée » et entraînait des abus.

      Le HCR comme l’organisationHuman Rights Watch ont dénoncé ce changement de politique, lequel satisfait une vieille revendication de l’Erythrée, qui considère l’exode de ses citoyens comme un complot pour déstabiliser son régime, avec le soutien des organisations internationales.

      http://www.rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20200424-l-ethiopie-change-politique-migratoire-vis-%C3%A0-vis-r%C3%A9fugi%C3%A9

  • Ethiopia : Unaccompanied Eritrean Children at Risk. Asylum Policy Changes Threaten Eritreans’ Rights

    The Ethiopian government’s changes to asylum procedures for Eritreans undermines their access to asylum and denies unaccompanied children necessary protection. The Ethiopian authorities should ensure that all Eritreans have the right to apply for asylum and publicly announce changes to its asylum and camp management policies.

    In late January 2020, the Ethiopian government unofficially changed its asylum policy, which for years granted all Eritrean asylum seekers refugee status as a group. Staff from Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) have only registered some categories of new arrivals at the Eritrea border, excluding others, notably unaccompanied children, the United Nations and aid groups say. Ethiopia’s refusal to register these asylum seekers could force them to return to abusive situations in violation of international refugee law.

    “Ethiopia has long welcomed tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing persecution each year,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “With no letup in repression in Eritrea, the Ethiopian government shouldn’t be denying protection to Eritrean nationals, particularly unaccompanied children.”

    Each year, thousands of Eritrean secondary school students, some still under 18, are conscripted into the country’s abusive indefinite national service program. National service is supposed to last 18 months, but the government often extends it to well over a decade. National service hampers children’s access to education and family life.

    To apply for asylum and gain official refugee status, Eritreans need to register with Ethiopia’s refugee agency at “collection centers” when they cross the border. After registration, many then move into 1 of 6 refugee camps, 4 in the Tigray region. A smaller number live as urban refugees. With official refugee status, Eritreans are eligible for services and protection.

    In July 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement, ending two decades of armed conflict and hostility, but it has not led to improvements in the human rights situation in Eritrea. In 2019, about 6,000 Eritreans arrived in Ethiopia every month. Ethiopia currently hosts 171,876 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, over a third of Eritrea’s global refugee population. According to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, as of December, 44 percent of Eritrean refugees in the Tigray refugee camps were children.

    In January 2019, Ethiopia’s parliament adopted progressive revisions to its refugee law that allow refugees and asylum seekers to obtain work permits and access primary education, receiving significant international acclaim. However, in January 2020, for reasons not made public, the government began to exclude certain categories of new arrivals from Eritrea from registering, including unaccompanied children.

    Denying people access to asylum is inhumane and unlawful, Human Rights Watch said. It may violate the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, which bars returning refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they face threats to their lives or freedom or the risk of torture. This principle also applies to indirect acts that have the effect of returning people to harm – for example, when uncertainty leads people to believe that they cannot apply for asylum and have no practical option but to return.

    The refusal to register unaccompanied children may compel them to return to abusive situations, Human Rights Watch said. Under international standards, governments should prioritize children’s access to asylum and offer children, particularly those who are unaccompanied, special care and protection.

    As of December, UNHCR said 27 percent of the Eritrean children arriving in the Tigray refugee camps were unaccompanied. About 30 unaccompanied or separated children arrived every day. Previously, Ethiopia had granted unaccompanied Eritrean children immediate care arrangements, access to emergency education, and individual counseling, although those services were reportedly under significant strain.

    However, the authorities have not been registering unaccompanied children since late January, and these children are not entitled to protection services or refugee camp accommodations, leaving them to fend for themselves. An aid worker in the Tigray region said “If children are undocumented [i.e. unregistered], they don’t have access to food, shelter, protection, or any psychosocial support. That exposes them to many external risks, including exploitation.”

    Under Ethiopia’s 2019 Refugees Proclamation, the government recognizes refugees as people who meet both the 1951 Refugee Convention definition and the definition of the 1969 African Union Refugee Convention, which includes people fleeing “events seriously disturbing public order.” The proclamation states that the government can revoke group refugee determination, in consultation with UNHCR, by giving due consideration to the country of origin situation and publishing a directive.

    The Ethiopian government does not appear to have followed these guidelines. It has not published a directive to inform new arrivals, refugees, and humanitarian partners, including the UNHCR, of the new criteria for registration, appeal procedures if their claims are denied, alternative legal routes for new arrivals, and reasons for the changes. This uncertainty risks creating significant confusion and fear for Eritrean asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said.

    On March 27, Human Rights Watch sent a letter with questions to Ethiopia’s refugee agency requesting a response on any changes to its policies or practice towards Eritrean refugees. No response has been received.

    UNHCR maintains its 2011 eligibility guidelines on Eritrea. The guidelines offer countries advice on how to assess protection needs of Eritrean asylum seekers, and the agency recently said at an immigration hearing in the United Kingdom that “until there is concrete evidence that fundamental, durable, and sustainable changes have occurred, these guidelines should be maintained.”

    The human rights situation in Eritrea remains dire and has not fundamentally changed since the 2018 peace agreement, making any shift in policy premature, Human Rights Watch said.

    The Ethiopian authorities announced in early March that it would close the Hitsats refugee camp in the Tigray region, where 26,652 Eritreans live, as of mid-April, according to UNHCR. That includes about 1,600 unaccompanied children who are receiving care, UNHCR said.

    Refugees and aid workers told Human Rights Watch that the timeline and procedures for the camp to close remain unclear. The deputy director general of Ethiopia’s refugee agency recently told the media that the relocations, reportedly on hold because of Covid-19, could begin by late April. The lack of clarity and the asylum policy change make it difficult to assess the impact of the camp’s closure and plan for viable, safe alternatives, including for unaccompanied children, Human Rights Watch said.

    An Eritrean man who was unlawfully imprisoned for seven years in Eritrea and now is in Hitsats camp said, “No one explains clearly our rights, where we go, what is the time frame, all these details. We are very worried – we already have our own problems. In addition to our everyday stresses and difficulties, this is adding more.”

    “Unaccompanied Eritrean children who seek asylum in Ethiopia face an impossible choice between lack of legal protection and services and uncertainty inside Ethiopia, or the risk of serious abuse if they return home,” Bader said. “Ethiopia should continue to show leadership in its treatment of Eritreans, with international support, and ensure that even during the Covid-19 crisis, it continues to protect asylum seekers from needless harm.”

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/21/ethiopia-unaccompanied-eritrean-children-risk

    #Ethiopie #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #Erythrée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #enfants #enfance #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés #Hitsats

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Refugee : The Eritrean exodus
    Série en 5 parties

    Follow Chris Cotter, an American traveler, as he explores a common migration path through Ethiopia and into Israel, tracking the plight of Eritrean refugees. Chris and his crew visit several refugee camps, including the never-before-documented Afar region. The refugees tell stories of oppression, torture, and survival. Searching for solutions, Chris speaks to various NGOs and experts, including Assistant Secretary of State, Anne Richard. The outlook is bleak, but the spirit of the Eritrean refugees is hard to ignore.

    https://www.theeritreanexodus.com

    Part 1 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjouQhlllLY

    Part 2 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WHlK12IOG8

    Part 3 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkDeHGb8uWA

    Part 4 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqP2DQe34wo&t=36s

    Part 5 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqS6AadI4rk


    #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #asile #migrations #Erythrée #Ethiopie #camps_de_réfugiés #frontières #histoire #frontière #indépendance #guerre_d'indépendance #Isaias_Afwerki #service_militaire #dictature #prisons #prisons_souterraines #sous-sol #souterrain #torture #enfants #Shire #Aysaita #Adi_Harush #Mai-Aini #Hitsas #viol #trafic_d'êtres_humains #Sinaï #kidnapping #esclavage #esclavage_moderne #néo-esclavage #rançon #Israël
    #film #film_documentaire #série

    –-> Très nord-américain dans le style, mais des images des camps de réfugiés en Ethiopie très parlantes et que je n’avais jamais vues...

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • I asked young Eritreans why they risk migration. This is what they told me

    Isaias was 16 when he escaped from Sa’wa, the military training camp for final-year high school students in Eritrea. His parents came to know of his whereabouts only a few weeks after. From Sudan he tried to cross the Sinai to reach Israel. But he was kidnapped by bandits. His family paid a high ransom to save him.

    Isaias returned to Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, where I met him when he was 17. His family was supporting him financially and wanted him to remain there. But Isaias had different plans. A few months later he disappeared. As I was later to learn, he had successfully crossed from Libya into Europe.

    This young man is part of a worrying statistic. Since around 2010, the flow of unaccompanied minors from Eritrea has significantly increased and has become the subject of international concern. In 2015, over 5000 unaccompanied minors from Eritrea sought asylum in Europe according to the Mixed Migration Centre. In 2018, the number was 3500.

    Minors are only part of a wider exodus that involves mostly Eritreans in their twenties and thirties. The UN refugee agency calculates that at the end of 2018 there were over 500 000 Eritrean refugees worldwide – a high number for a country of around 5 million people.

    Initially driven by a simmering border conflict with Ethiopia, this mass migration continues to be fuelled by a lack of political, religious and social freedom. In addition, there are little economic prospects in the country.

    And generations of young people have been trapped in a indefinite mandatory national service. They serve in the army or in schools, hospitals and public offices, irrespective of their aspirations, with little remuneration. Even though Ethiopia and Eritrea have struck a deal to end their border conflict, there is no debate over the indefinite nature of the national service.

    Brought up in a context where migration represents the main route out of generational and socio-economic immobility, most young Eritreans I met decided to leave. While unaccompanied minors are usually depicted as passively accepting their families’ decisions, my research illustrates their active role in choosing whether and when to migrate.

    I explored the negotiations that take place between young migrants and their families as they consider departing and undertaking arduous journeys. But the crucial role of agency shouldn’t be equated to a lack of vulnerability. Vulnerability, in fact, defines their condition as young people in Eritrea and is likely to grow due to the hardships of the journey.
    Context of protracted crisis

    Young Eritreans often migrate without their family’s approval.

    Families are aware that the country can’t offer their children a future. Nevertheless, parents are reticent about encouraging their children to take a risky path, a decision that can lead to death at sea or at the hand of bandits.

    Young Eritreans keep their plans secret due to respect, or emotional care, towards their families. One 23-year-old woman who had crossed to Ethiopia a year before told me:

    It is better not to make them worry for nothing: if you make it, then they can be happy for you; if you don’t make it, they will have time to be sad afterwards.

    Adonay, another 26-year-old man, said:

    If you tell them they might tell you not to do it, and then it would be harder to disobey. If they endorse your decision then they might feel responsible if something bad happens to you. It should be only your choice.

    But that is not all. As a young woman told me,

    The less they know the better it is in case the police come to the house asking questions about the flight.

    Migration from Eritrea is mostly illegal and tightly controlled by the government, any connivance could be punished with fees or incarceration.
    The journey

    Eritrean border crossings are based on complicated power dynamics involving smugglers, smuggled refugees and their paying relatives, generally residing in Europe, US or the Middle East.

    In this mix, smuggled refugees are far from being choice-less or the weak party.

    Relatives are often scared of the dangers of border crossing through Libya to Europe. Moreover, some may not be able to mobilise the necessary funds. But young refugees have their ways to persuade them.

    As payment to smugglers is typically made at the end in Libya and then after migrants have reached Italy, refugees embark on these journeys without telling their potential financial supporters in the diaspora. Once in Libya, they provide the smugglers with the telephone number of those who are expected to pay. This is an extremely risky gamble as migrants are betting on their relatives’ resources and willingness to help them.

    Those who do not have close enough relatives abroad cannot gamble at all. Sometimes relatives struggle to raise the necessary amount and have to collect money from friends and larger community networks. Migrants then have to spend more time – and at times experience more violence and deprivation – in the warehouses where smugglers keep them in Libya. Migrants are held to hide them from authorities and ensure their fees are paid.

    Even in these conditions, migrants don’t necessarily give up their agency. It has been argued that they,

    temporarily surrender control at points during the journey, accepting momentary disempowerment to achieve larger strategic goals.

    Moving beyond the common framing

    Analysing the interactions between Eritrean families and their migrant children at different stages of their journeys can contribute to moving beyond the common framing of the “unaccompanied minor” characterised by an ambivalent depiction as either the victim or the bogus migrant.

    These opposing and binary views of unaccompanied minors implicitly link deserving protection with ultimate victimhood devoid of choice. Instead, the stories of Eritreans show that vulnerability, at the outset and during the journey, does not exclude agency.

    https://theconversation.com/i-asked-young-eritreans-why-they-risk-migration-this-is-what-they-t
    #réfugiés_érythréens #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Erythrée #raisons #facteurs_push #push-factors #liberté #motivations #service_national #armée #service_militaire #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés #jeunesse #jeunes

  • Why I Leave Home
    By Yohana Tekeste

    I was born in a desert

    In which I grew up with false hope

    Eyes red, heart always aching

    Free classes opportunities zero

    I tried to look to those who were before

    No change I could see

    Mind so big, thinking so small

    Too much air, couldn’t breathe any more

    Tired of missions without aim

    The struggle took my father’s leg and my future, too

    My illness can kill if I don’t leave!

    Can this be crime to save my prime?

    Seeking for a place which I cannot even name

    Asking for asylum, it was not for food

    More a hunger for freedom leading to peace

    Was it my fault for leaving home?

    –----

    ቤተይ ገዲፈ

    ብ ዮሃና ተከስተ

    ተወሊደ ኣብ ምድረ በዳ

    ዓብየ ብናይ ሓሶት ተስፋ

    ወግሐ ጸብሐ ዓይነይ እናቀይሐ

    ብዘይእብረ ልበይ እናተሰብረ

    ሕልምታተይ ደረት ኣልቦ

    ዕድላተይ እናተራብሐ ብባዶ

    እንተራእኽዎም ቅድመይ ዝነበሩ

    ራኢኦም ጸልሚቱ መለሳ ዘይብሉ

    ኣእምርኦም ሰፊሕ ቅንጥብጣብ ዝሓስቡ

    ኣየር ብብዝሑ ትንፋሶም ተዓፊኑ

    ምንባር ሓርቢትዎም ተስፋ ዝሰኣኑ

    ተልእኾ ኣድኪሙኒ ዕላማ ዘይብሉ

    ቃልሲ ደኣ ናይ ኣቦይ እንድኣሉ

    እግሩ ዝወሰደ መጻእየይ መንጢሉ

    ጓሂ’ዶ ደኣ ክቀትለኒ እንታይ ኣለኒ ዕዳ

    ንሕልመይ ምብካየይ ገበን ኮይኑ ግዳ

    ስሙ’ኳ ዘይፈለጦ እንትርፎ ክርእዮ

    ስደት ዓዲ ጓና መኣስ ተመንየዮ

    ዝብላዕ ስኢነ’ዶ ዑቅባ ሓቲተዮም

    ሕልናይ’ዩ ጠምዩ ናጽነት ምስ ሰላም

    ዓደይ ብምግዳፈይ ኮይነ ድየ ጠላም፧

    https://www.oxforcedmigration.com/current-issue/why-i-leave-home

    #poésie #poème #exil #migrations #réfugiés #paix #liberté #Erythrée #réfugiés_érythréens

  • Migrants en Libye, les oubliés de l’exil

    Venus le plus souvent d’Érythrée, les migrants sont détenus dans des conditions lamentables, et souvent les victimes de milices qui les torturent et les rançonnent. Les Nations unies et l’Union européenne préfèrent détourner le regard. Témoignages.

    L’odeur d’excréments s’accentue à mesure que nous approchons de l’entrepôt qui constitue le bâtiment principal du centre de détention de #Dhar-El-Djebel, dans les montagnes du #djebel_Nefoussa. Un problème de plomberie, précise le directeur, confus.

    Il ouvre le portail métallique du hangar en béton, qui abrite environ 500 détenus, presque tous érythréens. Les demandeurs d’asile reposent sur des matelas gris à même le sol. Au bout d’une allée ouverte entre les matelas, des hommes font la queue pour uriner dans l’un des onze seaux prévus à cet effet.

    Personne dans cette pièce, m’avait expliqué un détenu lors de ma première visite en mai 2019, n’a vu la lumière du jour depuis septembre 2018, quand un millier de migrants détenus à Tripoli ont été évacués ici. #Zintan, la ville la plus proche, est éloignée des combats de la capitale libyenne, mais aussi des yeux des agences internationales. Les migrants disent avoir été oubliés.

    En Libye, quelque 5 000 migrants sont toujours détenus pour une durée indéterminée dans une dizaine de #centres_de_détention principaux, officiellement gérés par la #Direction_pour_combattre_la_migration_illégale (#Directorate_for_Combatting_Illegal_Migration, #DCIM) du gouvernement d’entente nationale (#GEN) reconnu internationalement. En réalité, depuis la chute de Mouammar Kadhafi en 2011, la Libye ne dispose pas d’un gouvernement stable, et ces centres sont souvent contrôlés par des #milices. En l’absence d’un gouvernement fonctionnel, les migrants en Libye sont régulièrement kidnappés, réduits en esclavage et torturés contre rançon.

    L’Europe finance les garde-côtes

    Depuis 2017, l’Union européenne (UE) finance les #garde-côtes_libyens pour empêcher les migrants d’atteindre les côtes européennes. Des forces libyennes, certaines équipées et entraînées par l’UE, capturent et enferment ainsi des migrants dans des centres de détention, dont certains se trouvent dans des zones de guerre, ou sont gardés par des milices connues pour vendre les migrants à des trafiquants.

    Contrairement à d’autres centres de détention que j’ai visités en Libye, celui de Dhar-El-Djebel ne ressemble pas à une prison. Avant 2011, cet ensemble de bâtiments en pleine campagne était, selon les termes officiels, un centre d’entraînement pour « les bourgeons, les lionceaux et les avant-bras du Grand Libérateur » — les enfants à qui l’on enseignait le Livre vert de Kadhafi. Quand le GEN, basé à Tripoli, a été formé en 2016, le centre a été placé sous l’autorité du DCIM.

    En avril, Médecins sans frontières (MSF) pour lequel je travaillais a commencé à faire des consultations à Dhar-El-Djebel. Le centre retenait alors 700 migrants. La plupart étaient enregistrés comme demandeurs d’asile par l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés (UNHCR), mais selon la loi libyenne, ce sont des migrants « illégaux » et ils peuvent être détenus pour une durée indéterminée.

    N’ayant que peu d’espoir de sortir, plusieurs ont tenté de se suicider au contact de fils électriques. D’autres avaient placé leur foi en Dieu, mais aussi dans les réseaux sociaux et leurs talents de bricoleurs. La plupart des détenus érythréens sont chrétiens : sur le mur face à la porte, ils ont construit une église orthodoxe abyssine au moyen de cartons colorés de nourriture et de matelas verts du HCR, avec des croix en cire de bougie. Sur d’autres matelas, ils ont écrit, avec du concentré de tomates et du piment rouge, des slogans tels que « Nous sommes victimes du HCR en Libye ». Avec leurs smartphones, ils ont posté des photos sur les réseaux sociaux, posant avec les bras croisés pour montrer qu’ils étaient prisonniers.

    Leurs efforts avaient attiré l’attention. Le 3 juin, le HCR évacuait 96 demandeurs d’asile à Tripoli. Une semaine plus tard, l’entrepôt bondé dans lequel j’avais d’abord rencontré les migrants était enfin vidé. Mais 450 Érythréens restaient enfermés dans le centre, entassés dans d’autres bâtiments, à plus de vingt dans une vingtaine de cellules, bien que de nombreux détenus préfèrent dormir dans les cours, sous des tentes de fortune faites de couvertures.

    « Ils nous appellent Dollars et Euros »

    La plupart des Érythréens de Dhar-El-Djebel racontent une histoire proche : avant d’être piégés dans le système de détention libyen, ils ont fui la dictature érythréenne, où le service militaire est obligatoire et tout aussi arbitraire. En 2017, Gebray, âgé d’un peu plus de 30 ans, a laissé sa femme et son fils dans un camp de réfugiés en Éthiopie et payé des passeurs 1 600 dollars (1 443 euros) pour traverser le désert soudanais vers la Libye avec des dizaines d’autres migrants. Mais les passeurs les ont vendus à des trafiquants libyens qui les ont détenus et torturés à l’électricité jusqu’à ce qu’ils téléphonent à leurs proches pour leur demander une #rançon. Après 10 mois en prison, la famille de Gebray avait envoyé près de 10 000 dollars (9 000 euros) pour sa libération : « Ma mère et mes sœurs ont dû vendre leurs bijoux. Je dois maintenant les rembourser. C’est très dur de parler de ça ».

    Les migrants érythréens sont particulièrement ciblés, car beaucoup de trafiquants libyens croient qu’ils peuvent compter sur l’aide d’une riche diaspora en Europe et en Amérique du Nord. « Nous sommes les plus pauvres, mais les Libyens pensent que nous sommes riches. Ils nous appellent Dollars et Euros », me raconte un autre migrant.

    Après avoir survécu à la #torture, beaucoup comme Gebray ont de nouveau payé pour traverser la mer, mais ont été interceptés par les garde-côtes libyens et enfermés en centre de détention. Certains compagnons de cellule de Gebray ont été détenus depuis plus de deux ans dans cinq centres successifs. Alors que la traversée de la Méditerranée devenait plus risquée, certains se sont rendus d’eux-mêmes dans des centres de détention dans l’espoir d’y être enregistrés par le HCR.

    Les ravages de la tuberculose

    Dans l’entrepôt de Dhar-El-Djebel, Gebray a retrouvé un ancien camarade d’école, Habtom, qui est devenu dentiste. Grâce à ses connaissances médicales, Habtom s’est rendu compte qu’il avait la tuberculose. Après quatre mois à tousser, il a été transféré de l’entrepôt dans un plus petit bâtiment pour les Érythréens les plus malades. Gebray, qui explique qu’à ce moment-là, il ne pouvait « plus marcher, même pour aller aux toilettes », l’y a rapidement suivi. Quand j’ai visité la « maison des malades », quelque 90 Érythréens, la plupart suspectés d’avoir la tuberculose, y étaient confinés et ne recevaient aucun traitement adapté.

    Autrefois peu répandue en Libye, la tuberculose s’est rapidement propagée parmi les migrants dans les prisons bondées. Tandis que je parlais à Gebray, il m’a conseillé de mettre un masque : « J’ai dormi et mangé avec des tuberculeux, y compris Habtom ».

    Habtom est mort en décembre 2018. « Si j’ai la chance d’arriver en Europe, j’aiderai sa famille, c’est mon devoir », promet Gebray. De septembre 2018 à mai 2019, au moins 22 détenus de Dhar-El-Djebel sont morts, principalement de la tuberculose. Des médecins étaient pourtant présents dans le centre de détention, certains de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), et d’autres d’#International_Medical_Corps (#IMC), une ONG américaine financée par le HCR et l’UE. Selon un responsable libyen, « nous les avons suppliés d’envoyer des détenus à l’hôpital, mais ils ont dit qu’ils n’avaient pas de budget pour ça ». Les transferts à l’hôpital ont été rares. En revanche, une quarantaine des détenus les plus malades, la plupart chrétiens, ont été transférés dans un autre centre de détention à Gharyan, plus proche d’un cimetière chrétien. « Ils ont été envoyés à Gharyan pour mourir », explique Gebray. Huit d’entre eux sont morts entre janvier et mai.

    Contrairement à Dhar-El-Djebel, #Gharyan ressemble à un centre de détention : une série de containers entourés de hauts grillages métalliques. Yemane a été transféré ici en janvier : « Le directeur de Dhar-El-Djebel et le personnel d’IMC nous ont dit qu’ils allaient nous conduire à l’hôpital à Tripoli. Ils n’ont pas parlé de Gharyan... Quand on est arrivés, on a été immédiatement enfermés dans un container ».
    Des migrants vendus et torturés

    Selon Yemane, une femme a tenté de se pendre quand elle a compris qu’elle était à Gharyan, et non dans un hôpital, comme le leur avaient promis les médecins d’IMC. Beaucoup gardaient de mauvais souvenirs de Gharyan : en 2018, des hommes armés masqués y ont kidnappé quelque 150 migrants détenus dans le centre et les ont vendus à des centres de torture. Le centre a alors brièvement fermé, puis rouvert, avec à sa tête un nouveau directeur, qui m’a expliqué que des trafiquants l’appelaient régulièrement pour tenter de lui acheter des migrants détenus.

    En avril 2019, des forces de Khalifa Haftar, l’homme fort de l’est de la Libye, ont lancé une offensive contre les forces pro-GEN à Tripoli et se sont emparées de Gharyan. Les troupes d’Haftar se sont installées à proximité du centre de détention et les avions du GEN ont régulièrement bombardé la zone. Effrayés par les frappes aériennes autant que par les migrants tuberculeux, les gardes ont déserté. Chaque fois que je me suis rendu sur place, nous sommes allés chercher le directeur dans sa maison en ville, puis l’avons conduit jusqu’au portail du centre, où il appelait un migrant pour qu’il lui ouvre. Les détenus lui avaient demandé un cadenas pour pouvoir s’enfermer et se protéger des incursions. De fait, des forces pro-Haftar venaient demander aux migrants de travailler pour eux. Yemane indique qu’un jour, ils ont enlevé quinze hommes, dont on est sans nouvelles.

    MSF a demandé au HCR d’évacuer les détenus de Gharyan. L’agence de l’ONU a d’abord nié que Gharyan était en zone de guerre, avant de l’admettre et de suggérer le transfert des détenus au centre de détention #Al-Nasr, à #Zawiya, à l’ouest de Tripoli. Pourtant, le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU a accusé les forces qui contrôlent ce centre de trafic de migrants, et placé deux de leurs dirigeants sous sanctions.

    « Si vous êtes malades, vous devez mourir ! »

    Les détenus étaient toujours à Gharyan quand, le 26 juin, les forces du GEN ont repris la zone. Le jour suivant, ils ont forcé le portail du centre de détention avec une voiture et demandé aux migrants de se battre à leurs côtés. Les détenus effrayés ont montré leurs médicaments contre la tuberculose en répétant des mots d’arabe que des employés du HCR leur avaient appris − kaha (#toux) et darn (#tuberculose). Les miliciens sont repartis, l’un d’eux lançant aux migrants : « Si vous êtes malades, on reviendra vous tuer. Vous devez mourir ! ».

    Le 4 juillet, le HCR a enfin évacué les détenus restants vers Tripoli. L’agence a donné à chacun d’eux 450 dinars (100 euros) pour qu’ils subvenir à leurs besoins dans une ville qu’ils ne connaissaient pas. L’abri où ils étaient censés loger s’avérant trop coûteux, ils ont déménagé vers un endroit moins cher, jadis une bergerie. « Le HCR dit qu’on sera en sécurité dans cette ville, mais pour nous, la Libye n’offre ni liberté ni sécurité », explique Yemane.

    La plupart des 29 migrants évacués de Gharyan sont maintenant bloqués, et en danger, dans les rues de Tripoli, mais espèrent toujours obtenir l’asile en dehors de Libye. Les combats se poursuivant à Tripoli, des miliciens ont proposé à Yemane de s’enrôler pour 1 000 dollars (901 euros) par mois. « J’ai vu beaucoup de migrants qui ont été recrutés ainsi, puis blessés », m’a-t-il raconté récemment sur WhatsApp. Deux de ses colocataires ont été à nouveau emprisonnés par des milices, qui leur ont demandé 200 dollars (180 euros) chacun.

    Les migrants de Gharyan ont si peur dans les rues de Tripoli qu’ils ont demandé à retourner en détention ; l’un d’entre eux est même parvenu à entrer dans le centre de détention d’Abou Salim. Nombre d’entre eux ont la tuberculose. Fin octobre, Yemane lui-même a découvert qu’il en était porteur, mais n’a pas encore de traitement.
    « Ils nous ont donné de faux espoirs »

    Contrairement à Gharyan, Dhar-El-Djebel est loin des combats. Mais depuis avril, des migrants détenus à Tripoli refusent d’y être transférés car ils craignent d’être oubliés dans le djebel Nefoussa. Selon un responsable de la zone, « notre seul problème ici, c’est que le HCR ne fait pas son travail. Cela fait deux ans qu’ils font de fausses promesses à ces gens ». La plupart des détenus de Dhar-El-Djebel ont été enregistrés comme demandeurs d’asile par le HCR, et espèrent donc être relocalisés dans des pays d’accueil sûr. Gebray a été enregistré en octobre 2018 à Dhar-El-Djebel : « Depuis, je n’ai pas vu le HCR. Ils nous ont donné de faux espoirs en nous disant qu’ils allaient revenir bientôt pour nous interviewer et nous évacuer de Libye ».

    Les 96 Érythréens et Somaliens transférés en juin de Dhar-El-Djebel au « centre de rassemblement et de départ » du HCR à Tripoli étaient convaincus qu’ils feraient partie des chanceux prioritaires pour une évacuation vers l’Europe ou l’Amérique du Nord. Mais en octobre, le HCR aurait rejeté une soixantaine d’entre eux, dont 23 femmes et 6 enfants. Ils n’ont plus d’autre choix que de tenter de survivre dans les rues de Tripoli ou d’accepter un « retour volontaire » vers les pays dont ils ont fui la violence.

    Le rapport de la visite de l’ONU à Dhar-El-Djebel en juin, durant ce même transfert, avait prévenu que « le nombre de personnes que le HCR sera en mesure d’évacuer sera très faible par rapport à la population restante [à Dhar-El-Djebel] en raison du nombre de places limité offert la communauté internationale ».

    De fait, le HCR a enregistré près de 60 000 demandeurs d’asile en Libye, mais n’a pu en évacuer qu’environ 2 000 par an. La capacité de l’agence à évacuer des demandeurs d’asile de Libye dépend des offres des pays d’accueil, principalement européens. Les plus ouverts n’accueillent chaque année que quelques centaines des réfugiés bloqués en Libye. Les détenus de Dhar-El-Djebel le savent. Lors d’une de leurs manifestations, leurs slogans écrits à la sauce tomate visaient directement l’Europe : « Nous condamnons la politique de l’UE envers les réfugiés innocents détenus en Libye ».

    « L’Europe dit qu’elle nous renvoie en Libye pour notre propre sécurité, explique Gebray. Pourquoi ne nous laissent-ils pas mourir en mer, sans souffrance ? Cela vaut mieux que de nous laisser dépérir ici ».

    https://orientxxi.info/magazine/migrants-en-libye-les-oublies-de-l-exil,3460
    #Libye #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #santé #maladie #externalisation

    –-----

    Et pour la liste de @sinehebdo, deux nouveaux #mots : #Dollars et #Euros

    Les migrants érythréens sont particulièrement ciblés, car beaucoup de trafiquants libyens croient qu’ils peuvent compter sur l’aide d’une riche diaspora en Europe et en Amérique du Nord. « Nous sommes les plus pauvres, mais les Libyens pensent que nous sommes riches. Ils nous appellent Dollars et Euros », me raconte un autre migrant.

    #terminologie #vocabulaire

    • Libye : que se passe-t-il dans le « #centre_d’investigations » de #Tripoli ?

      La semaine dernière, environ 300 migrants interceptés en mer par les garde-côtes libyens ont été transférés dans le centre de #Sharah_Zawiya, au sud de la capitale libyenne. Ouvert depuis au moins un an – avec une fermeture de quelques mois fin 2019 – le lieu est depuis peu contrôlé par le #DCIM et accessible à l’Organisation internationale des migrations (#OIM).

      #Centre_de_détention « caché », #centre_de_transit ou centre « d’investigations » ? Le centre de Sharah Zawiya, dans le sud de Tripoli, est l’objet d’interrogations pour nombre d’observateurs des questions migratoires en Libye.

      Selon l’Organisation internationale des migrations (OIM), contactée par InfoMigrants, le lieu est supposé être un centre de transit : les migrants interceptés en mer sont envoyés dans cette structure afin d’y subir un interrogatoire avant leur transfert vers un centre de détention officiel.

      « Théoriquement, ils [les migrants] ne restent pas plus de 48 heures à Sharah Zawiya », précise l’OIM.

      « Je suis resté au moins trois mois dans ce centre »

      Or plusieurs migrants, avec qui InfoMigrants est en contact et qui sont passés par ce centre, affirment avoir été enfermés plus que deux jours et disent n’avoir jamais été interrogés. « Je suis resté au moins trois mois là-bas l’été dernier, avant de réussir à m’en échapper », indique Ali, un Guinéen de 18 ans qui vit toujours en Libye. « Durant toute cette période, on ne m’a posé aucune question ».

      Ce dernier explique qu’à leur arrivée, les gardiens dépouillent les migrants. « Ils prennent tout ce qu’on a, le plus souvent nos téléphones et de l’argent ». Ibrahim, un Guinéen de 17 ans qui a – lui aussi - réussi à s’échapper du centre ce week-end après avoir été intercepté en mer, raconte la même histoire. « Ils m’ont forcé à leur donner mon téléphone et les 100 euros que j’avais sur moi », soupire-t-il.

      Ali assure également que les Libyens demandent une #rançon pour sortir du centre, avoisinant les 3 000 dinars libyens (environ 1 950 euros). « Un monsieur, un Africain, nous amenait des téléphones pour qu’on contacte nos familles et qu’on leur demande de l’argent. Un autre, un Arabe, récupérait la somme due ». Il détaille également les #coups portés sur les migrants « sans aucune raison » et le #rationnement_de_la_nourriture – « un morceau de pain pour trois personnes le matin, et un plat de pâtes pour six le soir ».

      D’après des informations recueillies et vérifiées par InfoMigrants, le centre est ouvert depuis au moins un an et a fermé quelques mois fin 2019 avant de rouvrir la semaine dernière avec l’arrivée d’environ 300 migrants. Un changement de chefferie à la tête du centre serait à l’origine de cette fermeture temporaire.

      Changement d’organisation ?

      Ce changement de responsable a-t-il été accompagné d’un changement de fonctionnement ? Ali explique qu’il s’est enfui vers le mois d’octobre, après trois mois de détention, avec l’aide de l’ancienne équipe. « Les Libyens qui contrôlaient le centre nous ont dit de partir car un nouveau chef devait arriver. L’ancien et le nouveau responsable n’étaient d’ailleurs pas d’accord entre eux, à tel point que leurs équipes ont tirés les uns sur les autres pendant que nous prenions la fuite ».
      L’OIM signale de son côté n’avoir reçu l’autorisation d’entrer dans le centre que depuis la semaine dernière. « Avant, le lieu était géré par le ministère de l’Intérieur, mais depuis quelques jours c’est le DCIM [le département de lutte contre la migration illégale, NDLR] qui a repris le contrôle », explique l’agence onusienne à InfoMigrants.

      Ibrahim assure, lui, qu’aucune somme d’argent n’a été demandée par les gardiens pour quitter le centre. Les personnes interceptées en mer, mardi 18 février, ont en revanche été transférées samedi vers le centre de détention de #Zaouia, où une rançon de 2 000 dinars (environ 1 300 euros) leur a été réclamée pour pouvoir en sortir.
      Ce genre de centre n’est pas une exception en Libye, prévient une source qui souhaite garder l’anonymat. « Il existe d’autres centres de ce type en Libye où on ne sait pas vraiment ce qu’il s’y passe. Et de toute façon, #centre_d’investigation, de transit ou de détention c’est pareil. Les migrants y sont toujours détenus de manière arbitraire pour une période indéfinie ».

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/22991/libye-que-se-passe-t-il-dans-le-centre-d-investigations-de-tripoli
      #Zawiya #IOM #détention

  • Projet Erythréen

    Nous avons lancé un projet de lutte contre la discrimination à l’encontre des requérant-e-s d’asile érythréen-ne-s en Suisse. Nous avons besoin de votre soutien pour veiller à ce que leurs droits fondamentaux soient respectés.

    Discrimination contre les Érythréen-ne-s en Suisse

    La situation épouvantable des droits de l’homme en Érythrée a poussé des dizaines de milliers de personnes à fuir les persécutions. Pendant de nombreuses années, la Suisse a offert un refuge sûr aux ressortissant-e-s érythréen-ne-s, reconnaissant leur besoin de protection internationale. Ils constituent le plus grand groupe de réfugiés en Suisse.

    Cependant, à la mi-2016, le Secrétariat d’Etat aux migrations (SEM) a entrepris un durcissement significatif de la politique d’asile – confirmé en 2017 par le Tribunal administratif fédéral (TAF) – refusant la protection à des milliers de personnes malgré le fait que la situation des droits humains en Erythrée ne s’est pas améliorée.

    Une déclaration de Human Rights Watch (HRW) lors de la session du Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU en juillet 2019, a relevé que :

    “Eritreans continue to face arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and violations of freedom of expression, assembly and religion. Individuals continue to be held incommunicado and detained indefinitely, denied basic due process rights, without access to legal counsel, judicial review, or family visits, some for decades.”

    En dépit de preuves accablantes du risque de torture, la Suisse est le seul pays européen à considérer l’Érythrée comme un pays sûr pour les personnes en âge de servir et qui ont quitté le pays illégalement (voir : notre présentation au Rapporteur spécial des Nations Unies sur la situation des droits de l’homme en Érythrée).

    "At the international level, Switzerland stands out by issuing removal decisions : no European State carries out expulsions to Eritrea." (ODAE romand)

    Les conséquences

    Les Érythréen-ne-s se voient refuser l’asile et reçoivent l’ordre de quitter le pays. Étant donné que la Suisse n’a pas d’accord de réadmission avec l’Érythrée, les retours forcés ne sont pas possibles. La conséquence en est que les ressortissant-e-s érythréen-ne-s expulsé-e-s sont condamné-e-s à une vie sans statut légal en Suisse. Ce groupe croissant d’Érythréen-ne-s sans statut survit grâce à l’aide d’urgence pendant une période indéfinie, sans possibilité de travailler ou de poursuivre leurs études. En vertu de la loi sur les étrangers, ils risquent également l’arrestation et la détention pour non-respect de la décision de renvoi. Cette situation est profondément indigne pour les personnes concernées qui sont essentiellement condamnées à vivre dans un “vide juridique”.

    La politique des autorités suisses n’affecte pas seulement les nouveaux arrivants, mais aussi les Erythréen-ne-s qui ont déjà été admis-es en Suisse (depuis plusieurs mois, voire années) avant le changement de pratique, et dont les permis sont arbitrairement révoqués par les autorités suisses (voir communiqué de presse SEM : https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/fr/home/aktuell/news/2018/2018-09-03.html).

    Notre Objectif

    Le CSDM considère que la pratique consistant à refuser une protection internationale aux requérant-e-s d’asile érythréen-ne-s en Suisse est contraire au droit international et discriminatoire car elle vise spécifiquement un groupe national déterminé.

    Il est clairement établi que les personnes risquent d’être soumises à la torture, à des mauvais traitements, à la détention arbitraire et au travail forcé lors de leur retour en Érythrée, répondant de facto à la définition de réfugié au sens de la Convention de 1951 relative au statut des réfugiés. Ceci est confirmé par le dernier rapport du European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

    Notre objectif est de contester la position des autorités suisses en faisant du lobbying et en engageant des procédures devant les organes de Traité des Nations Unies et la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme.

    Le CSDM considère que la pratique consistant à refuser d’accorder une protection aux demandeurs d’asile érythréen-ne-s en Suisse est discriminatoire et en violation du droit international.

    Notre plan d’action

    Afin d’atteindre cet objectif, nous prévoyons de mener les actions suivantes :

    LOBBYING

    Soumettre un rapport alternatif au Comité des Nations Unies pour l’élimination de la discrimination raciale (CERD) dans le cadre de son examen du rapport de la Suisse (101ème session, du 20 avril au 8 mai 2020).
    S’assurer du suivi de notre lettre d’allégations (https://centre-csdm.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Appel-Urgent-Erythr%C3%A9e-CSDM-14.05.2019.pdf) adressée au Rapporteur spécial sur la situation des droits de l’homme en Érythrée.

    DÉPÔT de plaintes internationales

    Préparation, soumission et suivi de nouvelles plaintes individuelles au CERD.
    Suivi de nos dossiers pendantes (N.A. v. Switzerland, Applic. no. 52306/18 ; B.G. v. Switzerland, Applic. no. 48334/19 ; D.S. v. Switzerland, CAT Comm. no. 953/2019).

    VISIBILITÉ

    Maintenir la visibilité sur la question de la discrimination à l’encontre des requérant-e-s d’asile érythréen-ne-s en :

    Diffusant des informations sur cette question, y compris du contenu Web et publier notre rapport alternatif.
    Sensibilisant régulièrement les parties concernées pour assurer la durabilité du projet.

    https://centre-csdm.org/projet-erythreen
    #discriminations #résistance #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #Suisse #Erythrée #CSDM #droit_d'asile

  • Unusual roundup of Eritrean refugees

    A serious and very unusual roundup of Eritrean refugees is underway in Khartoum this week. Security forces are targeting refugees and their establishments, in particular, refugees from Eritrea. Hungry security squads are hunting the helpless refugees from wherever they are: streets, workplaces, and even from their homes. Whoever caught by the security is asked to pay 50,000 or more to be released. Very unfortunately, Eritrean refugees are terrorized and in hiding to save their lives, including who have legal documents from the government and who are recognized by UNHCR.

    This unprecedented and well organized move against Eritrean refugees has no one anticipated. And no one has a clue about the motive behind it. It may have any link with the recent visits to Asmara by the Sudanese authorities. If that is the case, these refugees are in real or in an imminent danger that requires an immediate attention from the international community. The security officers are asking their nationality before they put them on trucks. It’s very worrisome situation for refugees who have no protection from the host country or from their own representative in the country. United Nations and other humanitarian organizations, including UNHCR have the obligation to intervene and save innocent lives. The situation is very alarming and heartbreaking that needs an urgent attention from whoever is engaged in humanitarian works.

    I want to stress that this information is a real that is happening now and continues to happen on innocent people who have no crime or misconduct, their only crime being that they are refugees who fled repression and asked protection in other country. As humans, they don’t deserve protection? They do, in fact, international community shouldn’t wait a second to act; it’s a matter of urgency. Have a look on the pictures below; refugees are under attack, horror, and terror from security and gangs.

    https://africamonitors.org/2019/12/14/unusual-roundup-of-eritrean-refugees-underway/amp
    #rafles #réfugiés_érythréens #Soudan #Khartoum #asile #migrations #réfugiés #enlèvements #prisons #emprisonnement

    @isskein

    • The plight of Eritrean refugees in Sudan: an appeal to the UNHCR

      To:

      UNHCR Khartoum Office, the Sudan

      Sudan Commission for Refugees (COR)

      Higher Council for Community Development

      Excellencies,

      It is to be recalled that on 30 October 2019, a symposium was organized in Khartoum attended by representatives of the Sudanese Ministry of Labor as well as one representative from each of the caseloads of refugees in the Sudan from Eritrea, S. Sudan, Ethiopia, the Congo, Yemen and Syria.

      At the said symposium, the Sudanese authorities and the local UNHCR Office have reached the agreement that refugees in the Sudan can be allowed training and work opportunities like Sudanese citizens, except in security and military spheres. Sadly, this accord was not formally conveyed to the concerned refugees in a manner that they can understand nor did the concerned authorities initiate the pledged training opportunities. Instead, refugees are this month being rounded up from their homes, workplaces and from the streets and taken to prison. Their incarcerators claim that the refugees, including those who held residence permits as of 2000 from the Immigration Ministry, have no work permits. To add insult to injury, the Sudanese “law enforcers” are asking the detained refugees to buy their freedom by paying between 50,000 and 100,000 Sudanese pounds.

      We the undersigned Eritrean political and civic forces demand the most immediate action on the following:

      The Sudanese authorities to stop the unjust action taken and being taken against Eritrean and other refugees in the host country;
      To let the refugees taken from workplaces to safely return to their jobs;
      To release without pre-conditions all detained refugees and respect the right of those refugees already holding residence permits to stay in the Sudan as refugees;
      To provide training courses to refugees as pledged, and to pay back the money taken from refugees who were asked to pay up to 100,000 pounds for their release from prison.

      Likewise, we urge the UNHCR to follow up the implementation of the agreement reached with the Sudanese authorities and the COR at the symposium of 30 October 2019 and protect the rights of victimized Eritrean refugees.

      No one can ignore or forget the historic warm welcome and support of the Sudanese people to Eritrean refugees, and we still call with strong hope the Sudanese Government to pursue fraternal relations that can strengthen existing bonds between our peoples. There is no doubt that Eritreans still take the Sudan as their second home.

      Respectfully yours,

      Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC);
      Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP);
      United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ)
      Unity for Democratic change (UDC)
      Eritrean National Front (ENF)

      https://eritreahub.org/the-plight-of-eritrean-refugees-in-sudan-an-appeal-to-the-unhcr

    • Un ami érythréen, qui suit cela de près, vient de me dire que cela fait 3 semaines que les rafles continuent, que les érythréens (et que les Erythréens, pas les migrants d’autres nationalités présents au Soudan, comme les Ethiopiens ou les Somaliens ou les Syriens, qui, eux, ne sont pas enlevés).

      Il me conseille 2 chaînes youtube, qui donnent des news en tigrinya :

      #Mestyat_Betna (la chaîne à suivre selon lui) :
      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoycGm-M8WgaZhBGOJYqg_Q
      –-> voir notamment cette #vidéo :
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTNfQiBzjCc


      Mestyat Betna habite en Allemagne.

      –----

      Fnan App Infotech (sport surtout et questions politiques) :
      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC00qOUnbRX1JgBV4RV1eSRw/videos?disable_polymer=1

  • Robel, migrant bien inséré, mais qui doit être renvoyé

    Robel est un jeune Erythréen de 21 ans. Depuis 2017, il est au bénéfice d’un permis F. Il trouve un travail, apprend le français et se construit un réseau social dans la région. Mais en juin dernier, il reçoit une lettre qui lui annonce que son permis lui est retiré. Il doit quitter le pays. La Suisse n’ayant pas d’accord de réadmission avec l’Erythrée, les renvois sont impossibles. L’association AJIR lance alors une pétition pour sensibiliser les autorités. En deux semaines, plus de 4000 signatures sont recueillies. Le sujet a même été abordé lors du dernier Parlement jurassien.

    http://www.canalalpha.ch/actu/robel-migrant-bien-insere-mais-qui-doit-etre-renvoye
    #permis_F #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #Suisse #Erythrée #renvoi #accueil_privé #travail #Jura #retrait_du_permis #aide_d'urgence #intégration_professionnelle #retrait_du_permis #régularisation #admission_provisoire

    Robel serait un de ces réfugiés érythréens à qui l’admission provisoire a été retirée après le #réexamen :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/688616

    v. aussi
    ODAE | Durcissement à l’encontre des Érythréen·ne·s : une communauté sous pression
    https://odae-romand.ch/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/RT_erythree_web.pdf
    https://seenthis.net/messages/739961

  • Smuggling, Trafficking, and Extortion: New Conceptual and Policy Challenges on the Libyan Route to Europe

    This paper contributes a conceptual and empirical reflection on the relationship between human smuggling, trafficking and #kidnapping, and extortion in Libya. It is based on qualitative interview data with Eritrean asylum seekers in Italy. Different tribal regimes control separate territories in Libya, which leads to different experiences for migrants depending on which territory they enter, such as Eritreans entering in the southeast #Toubou controlled territory. We put forth that the kidnapping and extortion experienced by Eritreans in Libya is neither trafficking, nor smuggling, but a crime against humanity orchestrated by an organized criminal network. The paper details this argument and discusses the implications.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/anti.12579
    #traite_d'êtres_humains #traite #trafic_d'êtres_humains #Libye #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #extorsion #crime_contre_l'humanité #cartographie #visualisation
    ping @isskein

  • ‘I am like a prisoner again’ – Glasgow’s destitute Eritreans

    Some nights Ariam gets lucky. A friend lets him sleep on a couch or curled up in the corner of a bedroom floor.

    But most evenings he just walks. With a bag slung over his slight, mid-30s frame, the Eritrean traverses Glasgow’s crepuscular streets, shoulders pulled tight against the elements.

    Ariam, not his real name, walks because he has no place to go.

    “I do not sleep on the street. It is too cold. I just walk around all night,” he says when we meet in a Glasgow cafe. It is around midday and Ariam looks tired. Stubble cloaks his thin face. He speaks clear English in a low monotone, as if his batteries are drained.

    “I’ve stayed in every part of Glasgow. Here, there, everywhere. That’s the way I live,” he tells me.

    The Ferret met the Eritrean refugees in this report in Glasgow in 2016. Two years on, most are still living the same precarious existence today, outside the immigration system with no access to work or housing, and with no prospect of returning to a homeland where they would face prison – or worse – for desertion.

    Ariam did not always live like this. Like so many Eritreans he spent years in compulsory military service with no prospect of an end. Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki’s one-party state is one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, according to Human Rights Watch.

    I’ve stayed in every part of Glasgow. Here, there, everywhere. That’s the way I live.
    Ariam

    One day, while guarding Eritrea’s western border, Ariam managed to escape into Sudan. From there, often on foot, he reached Libya. A precarious £1,000 ride on an inflatable dingy with 27 others took him across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

    Eventually he arrived in Dover. That was 2006.

    Once in the UK, Ariam was granted discretionary leave to remain, on humanitarian grounds. He moved to Glasgow shortly afterwards, and got a job at a warehouse and a flat in the East End.

    Life thousands of miles away from home was not easy but it was better than living in constant fear in Eritrea.

    In October 2015, Ariam reapplied to the Home Office for leave to remain. He had no reason to be worried. The system was cumbersome but he had been through it numerous times. However, this time his application was turned down. He was not entitled to work – or to draw any benefits.

    “I paid my taxes. Now they were telling me I couldn’t work, and they wouldn’t support me,” he says. “I risked my life to come to this country and now they abandoned me.”

    As he talks he takes a clear plastic envelope from his jacket pocket. Methodically he thumbs through the sheaf of documents inside; there are neatly ordered tax returns, Barclays bank statements, pages headed with the Home Office’s fussy shield of the Royal Arms crest. Among the paraphernalia of governance is a photocopied pamphlet: ‘Food Clothing Shelter Information Advice for Destitute Asylum Seekers’.

    After we have finished our coffees, Ariam and another Eritrean, Mike, take me to the East End, where they often sleep on the floor of an apartment complex that they lived in before their access to benefits was cut. The Barras slips past our taxi window. Then Celtic Park. “Paradise” declares a huge banner wrapped around the stadium. We keep driving. Five minutes later we arrive at a utilitarian block of flats clad in pebbledash. The building is perhaps only fifteen years old but already showing signs of age.

    “Here we are,” Ariam smiles. We are standing outside a janitor’s cupboard on the ground floor of the flats. Mike unfurls a mattress clandestinely stored inside. When the superintendent is away they sometimes sleep on the stairwell floor, in front of a plate glass window looking out onto a biscuit factory.

    Eritreans were the leading recipients of destitution grants from Scottish charity Refugee Survival Trust in 2015 and 2016. Destitute Eritreans in Scotland have received almost 300 survival grants over since 2014. Many of these were in and around Glasgow.

    Those The Ferret spoke to told a similar story. Having survived one of the most brutal regimes on the planet, many are barred from employment or benefits and forced to sleep in night shelters, on floors, or even in parks.

    “We are trapped here,” Ariam says as we walk back towards the city. “It is like we are prisoners of war here.”
    https://z4a4p3v5.stackpathcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/1S2C5880.jpg

    People have been fleeing Eritrea for Britain since the 1980s. For decades, the vast majority were granted asylum. But that changed in 2015 when the Home Office – then headed by Theresa May, who had pledged to radically reduce immigration – decided that Eritrea was no longer unsafe for refugees to return to.

    That year, Eritreans accounted for the largest group applying for asylum in the UK, with more than 3,700 applicants. But almost overnight the number of successful applications plummeted.

    In the first quarter of 2015 just under three-quarters of Eritrean applicants were approved. That figure fell to 34 per cent in the following three months.

    The Home Office was eventually forced to change its policy, and in 2016 – the last full year on record – the number of successful Eritrean asylum claims rose significantly.

    But there are still Eritreans in the UK who have found themselves living outside the system, with no formal status or right to accommodation or employment, trapped in what the British Government has called “a hostile environment” for immigrants.

    There is no evidence that Eritreans avoiding military service in Eritrea are thinking ‘I won’t go to the UK to avoid sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow’.
    Simon Cox, immigration lawyer

    “The logic of the hostile environment policy is we hold these people hostage to deter others from coming. There is no evidence that this works,” says Simon Cox, a migration lawyer for the Open Society Justice Initiative.

    “There is no evidence that Eritreans avoiding military service in Eritrea are thinking ‘I won’t go to the UK to avoid sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow’.”

    SNP MP Stuart McDonald says the Home Office has used a policy of “enforced destitution in order to try and make someone leave the UK” that is “barbaric and utterly inappropriate”.

    “It is a scandal these people are being forced to sleep in parks and bus shelters,” McDonald told the Ferret.

    The Home Office does not deport people back to Eritrea, such is the brutality of Isaias Afwerki’s one-party state.

    Afwerki led the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in a 30-year-long secessionist war with Ethiopia that culminated in independence, in 1993. Since then the president has overseen an increasingly brutal surveillance state.

    Eritreans as young as 13 or 14 are forced into sawa – indefinite national service – from which many never leave.

    Extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and forced labour take place “on a scope and scale seldom witnessed elsewhere”, according to a damning 2015 United Nations report. Afwerki oversees “ruthless repression” and “pervasive state control”.

    No one knows for sure how many people live in Eritrea. Some put the population at three million. Others six. This disparity attests to the scale of migration in recent decades.

    A 2015 UN report found that Eritreans who fled the country illegally are regarded as “traitors” and frequently imprisoned if they return. “[They] are systematically ill-treated to the point of torture,” the UN said.

    The Home Office used to recognise the barbarity of the Eritrean regime. In 2008, six Eritreans athletes at the World Cross Country Championship in Edinburgh lodged claims for political asylum. All were granted. One of the runners, Tsegai Tewelde, went on to compete for Britain in the 2016 Olympics.

    But the British Government’s position on Eritrea abruptly changed not long after a high level diplomatic meeting in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. In December 2014, senior Eritrean government officials received a UK delegation led by James Sharp, the Foreign Office’s director of migration, and Rob Jones, the Home Office’s head of asylum and family policy.

    Soon afterwards, Theresa May’s Home Office radically changed its guidance on Eritrea. The scale of human rights abuse in Eritrea was less severe than previously thought, Home Office officials said. Forced military service was no longer indefinite; those who left the country illegally faced no consequences as long as they signed a ‘letter of apology’ and paid a ‘diaspora tax’ on money earned abroad. This controversial new assessment was based on a ‘flawed’ Danish report.

    Britain’s official guidance on Eritean was only junked when judges ruled that returning Eritreans faced serious harm. Subsequent internal documents revealed that the UK government downplayed the risk of human rights abuses in Eritrea to reduce asylum seeker numbers – despite doubts from its own experts.

    McDonald said that the Home Office’s “treatment of Eritrean asylum seekers has been disgraceful – clinging on to clearly unreliable country evidence that returns to Eritrea could be made safely, even when the international consensus and overwhelming evidence was to the opposite effect.

    “There can be little doubt that a good number among the 300 Eritreans forced to rely on survival grants were refused while the old guidance was in place and the Home Office should be looking again at their cases.”

    Even though the Home Office’s country guidance has been amended , the bureaucratic hurdles can prove insurmountable for Eritreans on the streets. There are so many meetings to attend, forms to fill in correctly, documents to present.

    “Once you become homeless it becomes almost impossible. You can’t keep your paper. The idea of keeping an appointment goes out the window,” says Simon Cox.

    This labyrinthine process has been cited as one reason for the unprecedented increase in homeless refugees in Scotland in recent years. In 2014-15, the Refugee Survival Trust gave out 336 grants. Last year it was more than 1,000 for the first time.

    “The amount that we spend on grants has increased by 586 per cent in just three years and we are concerned about how long we will be able to meet this soaring demand to meet the most basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our society,” says Zoë Holliday, a co-ordinator with the Refugee Survival Trust.

    More than half of those receiving grants were either submitting a fresh asylum claim or further submissions to support an existing claim. At this stage of the asylum process most refugees have no access to government support.

    “There is a huge need for reform of the asylum system so that fewer individuals and families fall through the many gaps in the system and find themselves destitute. There is also a need for more support to be available for those who do find themselves in this situation, because it is simply unacceptable that so many people find themselves reliant on small emergency grants from a small charity like ours, which is in turn reliant on small donations from individuals and foundations,” says Holliday.

    Owen Fenn, manager of Govan Community Project, a community-based organisation that works with migrants in Glasgow, says the Home Office’s “agenda continues to punish the most vulnerable in our society”.

    “People then either have to sign up to return to a country where they will probably be killed, sleep on the streets and survive on foodbanks, or start working in a black economy where they are at risk of abuse and, if caught, criminalisation,” Fenn added.

    A Home Office spokesperson said: “Failed asylum seekers or those who have departed from the asylum process who can return to their country of origin should do so.

    “The Home Office has no obligation and does not provide support for failed asylum seekers, unless there is a genuine obstacle to their departure.”

    David has never seen his only son, Esrom. The child, who will be twelve at his next birthday, lives with David’s wife in the Eritrean capital Asmara. It is a city David, not his real name fears he will never see again.

    When Esrom was born, David was living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He had deserted his post as an Eritrean border guard. “I left with two friends,” David recalls. “We knew the place, where the minefields were.” The three men snuck away quietly, avoiding the snipers that guard the border, before crossing at a river.

    On the other side of the border the men were picked by a rebel group fighting the Ethiopian government. One of his companions was the son of a former government minister who was arrested in a vicious 2001 crackdown and never seen again.

    After four days, the deserters were handed over to Ethiopian authorities who placed them in a refugee camp. From there David joined the familiar route for Eritrean exiles; through Sudan, on to Libya and then across the Mediterranean.

    “I was not mentally fit to join the army,” David says. It’s a surprising thing to hear; he is tall, and well-built and speaks with a quiet confidence. But after 15 years in National Service, earning as little as £2 a month, he had to escape.

    Most of those who escape Eritrea are deserters. Many are not as lucky as David.

    Then they were caught and brought back. The whole night they were beaten. All you could hear was their screams.
    David

    In 2016, a convoy of military trucks travelled through the capital, Asmara. A busload of National Service conscripts made a run for it. They were shot down in cold blood. Twenty-nine were killed or injured.

    David knows first hand the brutality of life in Eritrea. Scars line his face. “They beat me with sticks,” he tells me.

    Torture was frequent in the jail he was held in after an earlier, unsuccessful, escape attempt. “One night four people managed to run from the prison. They escaped for two weeks. Then they were caught and brought back. The whole night they were beaten. All you could hear was their screams.”

    Now in his 40s, David has lived in Glasgow for almost a decade. We meet across the street from the African Caribbean Centre on Osborne Street. The community venue closed in 2016 with unpaid debts totalling over £60,000.

    David and his Eritrean friends look wistfully across at the padlocked doors, chewing tobacco and sharing cigarettes. “We went there every day. Now we have nowhere to go,” he says.

    The rest of the group nod. “We used to spend all day there,” says another. Often they would meet other Africans in the centre who would give them a roof for the night. Now many spend their days in public libraries, seeking solace from the cold before the long night arrives and the night shelters open.

    David sleeps on a friend’s floor some nights; others he spends in a homeless shelter in Glasgow that he has to leave by 8am. His clothes are washed by an Eritrean friend whose asylum application is being processed.

    “We get nothing from the government. We live on the charity organisations for our daily meal,” he says.

    “You don’t say “next week I will do this”, you just live day-to-day. You are always depending on someone else.”

    David came to the UK because he had family here. “I thought it would be better.” Has it been, I ask? He shakes his head. “No.”

    The Eritrean diaspora is now spread right across the world. Glasgow has one of the largest communities in the UK, with an estimated 500 Eritreans dispersed across the city.

    “Eritreans keep a low profile in case the Eritrean government comes after them,” says Teklom Gebreindrias, a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University who was granted asylum in the UK after escaping Eritrea in 2007.

    The Home Office has said that many Eritrean asylum applicants are bogus, made by other African nationals posing as Eritrean. But in a response to a Freedom of Information submitted by The Ferret, the Home Office said that data on so-called ‘nationality disputes’ is not collated and cannot be accessed without a manual investigation of all asylum cases.

    Another Eritrean, who we will call Moses, has given up appealing. He shows me an ID card. It looks very official, with the Westminster portcullis embossed beside his grainy photograph. Typed on the back in bold font is “FORBIDDEN FROM TAKING EMPLOYMENT”.

    Moses is thirty, tall and thin with piercing eyes. He absconded from the Eritrean army and arrived in the UK almost a decade ago. “I came here as a young man, now look at me.” His foot taps an impatient beat on the floor. He juggles a baseball cap between his broad hands. He grew up dreaming of becoming a mechanic. Now he spends his days killing time.

    “We are in a productive age but because we cannot work we are idle in this country. It affects your mental wellbeing.” His voice is rasping, and angry. “I used to be a normal person, but now I have depression. It is not easy to live for ten years without any support.”

    Moses has slept rough in Queen’s Park on Glasgow’s Southside. “People just stare at you but they do nothing.”

    For Moses the dream of a new life in the UK – a dream he risked sniper fire for, almost drowned in the Mediterranean Sea for, spent countless nights locked up in Home Office detention centres for – is dead.

    “I don’t want to stay in this country. It has ruined my life. There is nothing worse. We were living a miserable life in Eritrea. Now we are living a miserable life here.”

    https://theferret.scot/glasgows-destitute-eritreans

    #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #Erythrée #Ecosse #UK #asile #migrations #déboutés

  • The two contrasting sides of German refugee policy

    ‘They try to integrate some people while really try to get rid of others.’

    Four years after Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors to around one million refugees and asylum seekers, Germany continues to mull over the long-term consequences of its great welcome. It still grapples with fundamental questions about how refugees should integrate and, for the tens of thousands of asylum seekers whose futures remain in limbo, who should be allowed to stay and who will be returned home?

    Mohammad Zarzorie, a Syrian engineer, counts himself a success story. After fleeing to Germany via Greece and the Balkans in 2015, he received his refugee status within months, quickly learned to speak German, and through an employment fair soon found his job at a chromium plating manufacturer on the outskirts of Munich.

    Two years later, his wife followed him, and although a housing crisis means they must live in an apartment attached to the factory, he has found peace and contentment here in the industrial heartland of Bavaria, in southern Germany.

    “From a land that’s under war to (there) being nothing difficult for you to start your life in another safe country, it wasn’t difficult for me,” says Zarzorie, a university teaching assistant before conflict erupted in Syria.

    “There was no challenge,” Zarzorie says. “Here in Germany they have this benefits system. They help you a lot to start integrating with society.”

    Returning to the engineering work he was pursuing in Syria has been the foundation on which he has built a new life, and he eagerly wants more Syrians in Germany to enter employment. “I think they must (work) because you can’t start your life if you don’t work,” he says.

    But not all new arrivals to Germany share his good fortune and have the opportunity to work.

    Bavaria, Zarzorie’s new home, is consistently one of the most conservative and anti-migrant states in Germany. It has deported more than 1,700 people so far this year, and drawn severe criticism from human rights groups for continuing to send hundreds of migrants to Afghanistan, which no other German state considers a safe country for return.

    “The image is deliberately created that refugees do not want to work, or are inactive, and this increases resentment against refugees.”

    “Sometimes you need to make things clear to people who are naive and confused and think that migration is nothing more than making things a bit more multicultural,” Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said in August. “Asylum law applies, but we cannot accept everyone. Because that overburdens us.”

    “It’s paradoxical,” says Gülseren Demirel, responsible for migration and integration for the Bavarian Green Party, which opposes Herrmann’s Christian Social Union. “The Bavarian economy is strong and also offers jobs that can’t be staffed. The chambers of commerce and civil society groups try to integrate the refugees, but the political conditions do not allow this.

    “The consequence is that refugees are not allowed to work and can’t develop any perspectives,” she adds. “The image is deliberately created that refugees do not want to work, or are inactive, and this increases resentment against refugees.”
    Rejected, but ‘tolerated’

    Bringing new arrivals into the workforce has been the cornerstone of Germany’s integration efforts since 2015.

    The benefits are two-fold: they can become self-dependent and assimilate socially, while at the same time plugging the country’s severe labour shortage, which has left almost 1.4 million positions vacant and will require 250,000 immigrants per year to address.

    The results have exceeded expectations. Around 36 percent of refugees between 15 and 60 – around 380,000 to 400,000 people – are now in employment, according to Germany’s Institute for Employment Research, which expects that number to rise to around 40 percent before the end of the year. While many remain in low-wage work as cleaners or security personnel, half are in skilled professions.

    But around a quarter of a million migrants who have had their asylum cases rejected remain in the country, despite being required to leave. Of these, 191,000 have been granted a ‘toleration’ – a temporary status meaning their deportation has been postponed for reasons such as illness, family ties to a person with residency, or a lack of travel documents.

    Around 11,500 failed asylum seekers were deported in the first half of this year – a slight decline on 2018. But the possibility of deportation remains a very real fear for those with ‘tolerations’, which are usually provided on a rolling basis, lasting only a few weeks or months at a time.

    Even if they attempt to find work and learn the language, they often find themselves subject to arbitrary decisions at the hands of Germany’s formidable bureaucracy.

    The decision on whether to grant asylum is made at a national level, but once a person’s claim has been rejected what follows is largely determined by state or local administrations, which are granted wide discretion, leading to wildly divergent situations depending on where a person is located.

    “(Local offices) often decide whether you can get a work permit, and you need a work permit for getting an apprenticeship permit, which then is very often the way for consolidating your right to stay,” explains Simon Sperling, a researcher at the University of Osnabruck’s Institute of Migration Research and Intercultural Studies.
    ‘It’s not how I was before’

    Like Zarzorie, Johnson Nsiah, from Ghana, also arrived in Germany after crossing the Mediterranean in 2015. He was sent to live in Kempten, a large town in Bavaria around two hours drive west of Munich.

    After fleeing his home when a local dispute threatened his life, he crossed the Sahara to Libya, where he worked as a builder and painter for two years. There, he met Julia*, a Nigerian woman, and helped her escape from her abusive employer. The employer then threatened to kill them both, forcing them to pay for space aboard an inflatable boat, which was intercepted by an Italian navy ship that brought them to Europe.

    The couple are now married. Julia, along with their two children – a four-year-old born in Italy and a two-year old born in Kempten – have the right to remain in Germany, but Nsiah’s asylum claim has been rejected and he is required to leave the country.

    Because of his family, Nsiah has been granted a ‘toleration’, in the form of a paper slip, valid for six months, which fixes the boundaries of his life. It does not permit him to work, travel outside Bavaria, or live outside the apartment block in which his family resides – a former mental hospital repurposed to house over 100 asylum seekers and refugees.

    The local administrative office has demanded Nsiah return to Ghana to obtain a passport, which he says is financially impossible and would amount to a death sentence due to the continued threats made against him. The restrictions have put a heavy toll on his mental and physical health. Stress has contributed to painful migraines that caused him to drop out of language classes.

    “It’s not how I was before,” he says, gesturing towards the hearing aids protruding from both his ears. “Because of stress, all those things, they make me like this.”

    Nsiah believes his many years of experience should easily lead to a job in construction or painting, and it angers him that that he is limited to cleaning the apartment building for 60c an hour while other Ghanaians he met in 2015 have been working freely in Hamburg and Stuttgart for years.
    Separation by nationality

    In June, the German parliament approved a raft of new asylum laws, including some measures to strengthen the rights of rejected asylum seekers in steady jobs, but also others that lengthened maximum stays in detention centres and streamlined deportations.

    For Sperling, the origins of this contradictory approach date back to 2015, when German authorities quietly began to separate arrivals based on their nationality, which greatly influences their chances of a successful asylum application.

    “The politics is very ambivalent in this sense: they try to integrate some people while really try to get rid of others.”

    Syrians, Iraqis, and Eritreans were all deemed to have good prospects and shuffled quickly into courses to help them integrate and find work. Others, especially those from West Africa and the Balkans, had a less favourable outlook, and so received minimal assistance.

    “Germany invested in language courses and things like that, but at the same time also really pushed forward to isolate and disintegrate certain groups, especially people who are said to not have have good prospects to stay,” he says.

    “The politics is very ambivalent in this sense: they try to integrate some people while really try to get rid of others.”

    But while some have undeniably built new lives of great promise, the lives of many of those 2015 arrivals remain in limbo.

    On the street, Nsiah says, Germans have racially abused him and berated him for refusing to work, a bitter irony not lost on him.

    “It’s not our fault. No refugee here doesn’t want to work,” he says, his voice smarting.

    “The only thing I need to be happy... (is) to work and take care of my family, to live with my family, because my wife doesn’t have anybody and I cannot leave her alone with these children.”
    The two extremes

    The local immigration office in Bavaria has shown a reluctance to grant permits for work or to access to three-year apprenticeships, which if pursued by someone like Nsiah would almost certainly lead to a job offer and a secure residence permit.

    It also frequently imposes restrictions on movement with breaches punishable by heavy fines. An Iraqi man in Kempten showed The New Humanitarian a picture of his seriously ill wife lying on a hospital bed in Saxony, whom he cannot visit because his pass restricts him to Bavaria; while an Iranian man said that for eight years his pass did not permit him to stray beyond the town boundary.

    Moving to another district or state might be beneficial, but these onerous stipulations, combined with a chronic shortage of rental accommodation throughout Bavaria, make it nearly impossible for those on low or non-existent incomes.

    Zarzorie, meanwhile, hopes to find his own house in Munich, raise children and finish the master’s degree he first embarked upon in Aleppo.

    There is still adjusting to do, to what he calls the different “life-cycle” in Munich. Unlike his memories of Syria, in which cafés and streets buzzed with chatter until the early hours of the morning, the boulevards here fall quiet long before midnight.

    That’s why he’s drawn most evenings to Marienplatz, a square in the city’s old quarter where its historic town hall overlooks modern cafes and restaurants, and the crowds stay out late enough that it almost reminds him of home.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2019/11/11/German-refugee-integration-policy
    #Allemagne #intégration #asile #migrations #réfugiés #renvois #machine_à_expulser #politique_d'asile #réfugiés_syriens #catégorisation #nationalité #réfugiés_irakiens #réfugiés_érythréens #réfugiés_afghans #renvois #expulsion

    ping @_kg_

  • Continuous Influx of Eritrean Refugees Challenges Ethiopia

    Refugee and host communities in Ethiopia came together on June 20 to commemorate World Refugee Day through various cultural activities, organized within refugee camps as well as urban settings. But the reality behind the festivities is that hundreds of Eritrean refugees continue to cross the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia every day.

    Despite the peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea, signed in July 2018, the internal situation and oppression of Eritrean people, mainly through the indefinite military service, remains intact. The continued inflow of young Eritreans fleeing oppression is putting strain on Ethiopia’s refugee camps.

    A senior official from the Ethiopian refugee agency has reported that Eritrean refugees continue to arrive in Ethiopia in large numbers, 250 to 300 persons a day. The increasing number of people residing in refugee camps is posing an enormous challenge for the Ethiopian Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affair (ARRA) as well as development and relief organizations working with refugees. “We have challenges of shelter, Core Relief Items (CRI), water and energy alternatives,” states the senior official. Earlier reports indicate that many young Eritreans currently flee due to the increase of raids, Giffas, to force them into the indefinite national service.

    It is not just Eritreans who are fleeing the country. According to the informed sources, around 5000 Somali refugees living in Eritrea are trying to reach Ethiopia in search of safety. Out of this group, more than 400 individuals have already arrived at Zalambessa, a border town between Ethiopia and Eritrea, where they are supported by Gulomokeda Wereda, a local administrative district of Tigray region.

    Ethiopia has introduced an open door approach and is currently hosting more than 915,000 refugees inside the country. Even though the Federal Government of Ethiopia has shifted its national legislation to give broader rights to refugees, including work permits, the strain on Ethiopian reception facilities is growing.

    Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) has hosted a summit in Brussels in which migration and its management was high on the agenda. The external migration policies of the EU have been challenged this week by a group of organizations through a joint initiative.

    In the letter, addressed to the president of the European Council, organizations denounced migration policies and platforms such as the Khartoum Process through which the EU and several member states cooperate with regimes accused of systematic and severe human rights violations.

    Civil society actors have been mobilizing in the form of legal action, campaigns and protests in order to challenge the adverse effect on human rights, democracy and rule of law that the EU’s external policies are creating. The Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans has initiated a court case against the EU’s €20 million project supporting the Eritrean regime to build roads through a forced labour. Amnesty International and seven other NGOs have taken legal steps against France over the allegedly unlawful donation of boats to the Libyan coast guard. Also, a young Ethiopian asylum seeker has sued the UK’s Department for International Development for funding detention centres in Libya where refugees are exposed to human rights violations, torture and abuse.

    Furthermore, NGOs have legally challenged the blocking of rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea; meanwhile, a German rescue boat captain Pia Klemp faces prosecution in Italy for her rescue work. A group of lawyers has submitted a document to the International Criminal Court, which calls for EU prosecution over migrant and refugee deaths as a result of EU policy.

    Meanwhile in the Greater Horn of Africa, citizens are raising their voice. Sudanese citizens have been demonstrating, first against the oppressive regime and now against the Transitional Military Council, and are calling for a democratic civilian government. A group of prominent African activists has written an open letter urging Eritrea’s president, Isaias Afwerki, to launch political reforms and to protect human rights of Eritrean people.

    This initiative was predictably dismissed by the regime. Nevertheless, diaspora and even activists within Eritrea are pushing for change through the #Enough and #Yiakil campaign demanding end of indefinite national service, slavery and human rights violations.

    If change is to happen, oppressive leaders and militia should be held accountable for their actions through empowerment of the people. As the letter to the president of the European Council highlights, the EU should support the people, rather than unaccountable external actors, by directing its policies and instruments towards this objective. [IDN-InDepthNews – 22 June 2019]

    https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/the-world/africa/2770-continuous-influx-of-eritrean-refugees-challenges-ethiopia

    #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Ethiopie #Erythrée #réfugiés_érythréens #passages #traversées

    Une news qui date de juin 2019, mais que je mets ici pour archivage, et notamment pour ces #statistiques #chiffres :

    A senior official from the Ethiopian refugee agency has reported that Eritrean refugees continue to arrive in Ethiopia in large numbers, 250 to 300 persons a day.

    J’ai trouvé ce chiffre aussi ici :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/808866

  • Eritrean refugees defy border closures only to find hardship in Ethiopia

    The long-dormant border crossings re-opened with such fanfare between Eritrea and Ethiopia last year as a symbol of warming relations are all now closed – but that isn’t stopping a steady flow of Eritrean refugees from fleeing across the heavily militarised frontier.

    According to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, around 300 people continue to cross each day, using remote paths to avoid arrest by Eritrean border guards. They are prima facie refugees, typically escaping compulsory national service, repression, and joblessness, or looking to reunite with family members who have already made the journey.

    New arrivals join roughly 170,000 Eritrean refugees already in Ethiopia, staying in overcrowded camps, or living in nearby host communities. Younger, more mobile men and women typically head to the capital, Addis Ababa, to look for work, taking advantage of Ethiopia’s liberal employment policies for refugees.

    Finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet in Ethiopia, many Eritrean refugees are choosing to move on, seeking better opportunities in Europe – or even further afield in the Americas – to support their families.

    Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, but relations between the two governments soured, leading to a war from 1998 to 2000 in which 100,000 people died. Eritrea’s closed economy and the harshness of a regime that has remained on a war footing created a generation of exiles – some 460,000 people had fled the country by the end of 2016 out of a population of 5.3 million.

    The peace agreement signed in July 2018 between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki ended almost two decades of frozen conflict – and won Abiy a Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month. The accord was meant to usher in trade and development, and revive the historical ties between the two nations. But, as progress towards normalising relations has stalled, the four frontier posts thrown open under the agreement have shut, with the last one, Assab-Bure, closing in May.

    “No proper explanation was given, but most probably the [Eritrean] regime fears the risk of losing control over the command economy and further acceleration of the mass exodus,’’ said Nicole Hirt, a researcher on Eritrea with the German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    Safety, but little work

    The Ethiopian government’s “open-camp” policy means refugees don’t have to stay in camps and can work or continue with their education.

    But most Eritreans here have no proof of their academic qualifications. The Eritrean government doesn’t issue them to those who haven’t completed national service or can’t show evidence of an exemption.

    That complicates the search for work, as Eritrean refugees have to compete in an economy that is struggling to deliver jobs to an already large pool of unemployed youth.

    In the densely-populated Mebrat Hail suburb of Addis Ababa, many apartment buildings are home to Eritreans who arrived after the peace agreement was signed.

    The influx of people looking for work and accommodation led to a jacking up of rents – adding to the struggle of new refugees trying to make a fresh start in Ethiopia.

    “Rent is becoming very expensive in Addis Ababa and, even when you can find a job, you can barely pay the bills,’’ said Abinet, a young Eritrean working as a taxi driver.

    Rent on a one-bedroom flat is between $150 and $200 – a large amount of money to find each month.

    Faven, who was a laboratory technician in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, came to Addis Ababa to join her family. She is now working in a small shop earning $34 a month. “Not even enough to pay my rent,” she said.
    No way back

    Compulsory national service is the “primary driver behind the mass exodus of thousands of young Eritreans each month who brave dangerous foreign journeys and callous governments to reach safety abroad”, Human Rights Watch has noted.

    Mickel, 22, fled the country after doing three years in the military – leaving him now marooned.

    “I’m afraid to return. I will end up in jail, or worse [if I do],” he told The New Humanitarian. “I don’t have a passport and I cannot move freely.”

    Attendance at Sa’wa, Eritrea’s national defence training centre, is compulsory for every high school student. Conscription can be indefinite. Human rights groups have repeatedly documented “slavery-like” conditions during military training at Sa’wa, including torture and sexual violence.

    “I wake up in the night and I feel the government is coming to take me.”

    "We are prisoners of our dreams in Sa’wa. We are not free. That’s why I ran away,” said a 27-year-old former physics teacher, who taught at Sa’wa before escaping.

    Filomon, a teenager, said he constantly worries he could be kidnapped in Addis Ababa by Eritrean secret police and taken back to Asmara – a fear heightened by the reopening of the Eritrean embassy in July last year.

    “I wake up in the night and I feel the government is coming to take me. I still feel they can arrest me at anytime,” Filomon told TNH. “I don’t feel safe here.”
    Travelling on

    For many Eritreans, life in Ethiopia is a frustrating state of limbo.

    Those who can, make plans to leave the country. For example, Robel, 27, is waiting for his application for a family reunification visa to the UK to be processed. In the meantime, his brother sends him money each month.

    Others contemplate more difficult journeys, north to Sudan and then the Mediterranean route to Europe via Libya – although that is tempered by the well-known dangers.

    “We are aware of the risk and we all know what’s happening there,’’ a young Eritrean woman said in reference to Libya, where migrants can face detention, extortion, and torture at the hands of militia, even before attempting the perilous sea crossing to Europe.

    It is difficult to gauge how many Eritreans are journeying on from Ethiopia, but according to UNHCR, it is a significant number, with many of them unaccompanied minors.

    Apart from the well-trodden journey north to Sudan, new routes are emerging – or being re-explored.

    For those who can afford it, Latin America is a growing destination – with the hope of then making it on from there to the United States or Canada – according to the UN’s migration agency, IOM.

    “Nothing is impossible if you have money,” said Ghebre, who arrived in Addis a few months ago but is already dreaming of a better life abroad, and who preferred to only give one name.

    Forged travel documents that can get you to Colombia, Ecuador, or Panama are available from smugglers in Uganda for $3,500 per person, TNH was told by several Eritreans in Addis Ababa. It is then a treacherous overland trek to Mexico.

    Getting through Mexico, though, is a major hurdle. A report this month by the Mixed Migration Centre noted that some 4,779 Africans were apprehended in Mexico from January through July of 2019 – almost a fourfold increase over the same period the previous year. Among those were Eritreans, according to IOM.

    Between 1,500 and 3,000 Africans are currently stranded in the southern city of Tapachula – although the Mexican authorities say they are on pace to triple the number of African migrants being processed this year, up from 2,100 in 2017.

    An unknown number of migrants are also camped on Mexico’s northern border – stalled by the tough new US immigration policies. In a one week period earlier this year, the US Border patrol at Del Rio stopped more than 500 African migrants – some with children – who had taken the risk to cross undocumented.

    Even if Eritreans do make it to the United States, there has been an “alarming uptick” in deportations by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, which specifically targets them, according to news reports.

    The US Department of Homeland Security has also imposed visa restrictions on Eritreans, in direct retaliation for Asmara’s perceived non-cooperation over the deportation of its citizens – a move that in reality punishes the migrants rather than the government.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2019/10/21/Eritrean-refugees-Ethiopia-border-closures
    #fermeture_des_frontières #ouverture_des_frontières #paix #processus_de_paix #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_érythréens #Erythrée #Ethiopie #Addis_Abeba #travail

  • Scars and trauma run deep for Eritrean refugees

    It’s been one year since I first started getting messages from refugees locked up in Libyan detention centres. Using hidden phones, they risked brutal retaliation to send information about the horrors they were experiencing, and how the European Union is directly implicated. They hoped some good would come from this being exposed to the world, but little has changed since.

    Libya, a war-torn country in North Africa, was once a key transit state for people trying to reach Europe. Since 2017, tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned there from the Mediterranean Sea and locked up indefinitely. Most were intercepted by the EU-supported Libyan coast guard, under a deal aimed at stopping migration to Europe.

    In detention, they face disease, sickness, forced labour and sexual violence. Tuberculosis is common. Medical care, food and water are lacking. Hundreds of children and minors are among the incarcerated, left without an education. Couples are separated. In one detention centre, at least 22 people died in eight months.

    A small number manage to escape.

    One of the first people to contact me from a Libyan detention centre was Yosi. He was being held with hundreds of others in Ain Zara, south Tripoli, when conflict broke out in August 2018. Buildings smoked around them, while fighters patrolled with anti-aircraft guns outside.

    In April this year, war in Tripoli erupted again. A week into it, one of Yosi’s close friends, a 17 year old called Meron, died after throwing himself into a septic tank behind their detention centre. Meron was traumatised and depressed from all that he had experienced. “Today I hated living in this shameful world,” Yosi told me. “I lost my friend, brother, my everything . . . Meron was a good boy.”
    Evacuated to Italy

    In May, Yosi was evacuated to Italy by the United Nations Refugee Agency – one of a lucky few. He received little help from Italian authorities, and decided to travel on to Luxembourg, after seeing fellow Eritreans sleeping on the streets and worrying that would be his future.

    Last month, I finally met him in person.

    On my first day in Luxembourg, we talked for more than 10 hours. We walked around the city, through the caving park and by the ancient castles. We went back to the reception centre where he shared close quarters with dozens of other asylum seekers, all waiting for decisions on their cases.

    The whole time we were discussing Libya and everything he has gone through. Yosi was tortured by smugglers and abused by Libyan guards. He has many scars: physical and mental.

    Yosi doesn’t like being in cars anymore or any small spaces, because it reminds him of being locked up. He jumps at the sound of a slamming door or a dog barking.

    A few days before we met there were fireworks, part of some festival. Yosi ran outside, believing the sound was heavy weapons. He wanted to know how far off the missile was.

    Eritreans who flee towards Europe, like Yosi, are often underage. They escape before they are forced to begin a programme of indefinite, mandatory military service, which has been likened to slavery by the United Nations.
    Ageing test

    Though the UN Refugee Agency interviewed Yosi in Libya and gave him papers saying he was 16 years old, Luxembourg’s authorities accuses him of lying. They ordered a medical test designed to measure physical growth, which has been criticised as inaccurate by activists and aid workers. Afterwards, officials told Yosi he is 25.

    “What’s at stake is big here: minors benefit from a much bigger protection,” Ambre Schulz told me last week. Schulz works at Passerell, an organisation that gives legal help to refugees and migrants in Luxembourg, including Yosi.

    Shortly after my visit, Yosi was moved back to another detention centre, a crushing blow in the country he hoped to make his home. He may be deported back to Italy, where he was first fingerprinted. He’s hoping his case can be reconsidered.

    Yosi’s age isn’t the only part of his story that has been questioned. He’s realising most Europeans have no idea of the gross human rights abuses being used to solidify EU borders. After he was taken to hospital in Luxembourg with an ankle injury, from playing football, he told one of the medical staff he has a problem remembering instructions because of the trauma in his past.

    He spoke of detention centres in Libya, of #torture and #violence. He said she didn’t believe him. “She was confused,” he said. “She said like [/laughing/], is it a movie?”

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/scars-and-trauma-run-deep-for-eritrean-refugees-1.4004285
    #réfugiés_érythréens #trauma #santé_mentale #traumatisme #réfugiés #asile #migrations