Civil society organizations petition UN and AU on the situation of Eritrean refugees in Tigray

Civil society organizations in Africa have petitioned the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) on the worrying situation of the Eritrean refugees in the Tigray Region. The petition was submitted by the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) and the Transformative Leaders Network – Africa (TRANET-Africa).

The key demands in the petition among others are that; Eritrean refugees are protected in line with international law and are immediately evacuated from the Tigray region, an end to imprisonment, forced disappearance and abductions of Eritrean refugees to Eritrea, Eritrean refugees are given humanitarian assistance and protection as a matter of urgency, Immediate humanitarian assistance inside Eritrea is provided as there is starvation inside the country, hold the regime in Asmara to account for committing collective genocide on the Eritrean people, the federal government of Ethiopia unlocks all digital communications platforms and strengthen Communication channels with the affected refugees and the outer world established with immediate effect to enable interested humanitarian providers to access relevant information on how to approach the situation and to ensure all Eritrean refugees who have not been registered, are done so with immediate effect and given the protection that they need.

On the 4th November 2020, a deadly conflict broke out in the Tigray region.  The civilian population in particular and the over 100, 000 Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region who were already in a bad position have found themselves in a further desperate situation. The conflict has been in and around the refugee camps in the Tigray region and scores have been killed and many injured. There is mounting evidence that armed groups are entering the refugee camps to rob in particular; mobile phones, looting and threatening the refugees.

The Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia are facing double jeopardy of being in a foreign land and at the same time being forced into a third country with minimal or almost none existent humanitarian support and being repatriated against their will and against the international law on refugees. Repatriated refugees are believed to have been subjected to torture and detention incommunicado by the Eritrean government.

The African union agenda 2063 envisions an Africa free of wars and conflict and reiterates its commitment to advancing human rights, rule of law and good governance. The occurrence in Tigray is a situation that debunks the vision of the African Union and the United Nations and escalates serious human rights issues and crimes against humanity that need a multipronged approach to bring to an end for the affected people especially the Eritrean refugees.

The petition is supported by a host of organizations among others Civicus, Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG-), Junub Youth Action Network, Youth Forum for Social Justice-Uganda. The petition is part of the campaign to advance human rights, good governance and peace building among others in the horn of Africa.

The Petition found here was delivered to the Congolese president HE Felix Tshisekedi the current Chairman of the African Union through the Congolese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, HE Marie Ndjeka.