Protecting Eritrean Asylum Seekers

A few weeks ago, John flagged a Refugees International report on the plight of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. (The two countries have been in a state of conflict for the past decade). However, it seems that Ethiopia is not the only place that displaced Eritreans are vulnerable. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees reports that in recent weeks large numbers of Eritreans have sought refuge in Egypt. Problematically, Egyptian authorities have begun to systematically deport them. From the UN News Center:

The top United Nations human rights official said she was “alarmed” by reports that Egypt has deported some 700 Eritrean-asylum seekers in the past few days, and called on authorities to halt any further forced returns.

“People who could well be at risk in their home country should never be sent back before their asylum claims have been properly addressed,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement.

“Egypt should respect its international obligations not to send home anyone who could face torture or other serious forms of ill treatment, as may well be the case with those who have apparently been deported in recent days,” she added.

In a somewhat related development, the European Union approved a common policy yesterday which allows EU members to hold undocumented migrants in detention centers for up to 18 months.

Life just became a bit more difficult for the world’s most vulnerable populations.