Ethiopia Denying Entry to Eritrean Migrants

By Staff Reporter

Eritrean-Refugees-EthiopiaApril 24, 2020 ( -- Ethiopia has denied entry permits for Eritrean migrants who want to cross to its territory, has learned.

UN agencies that are working on migration and aid organizations told VOA Amharic service that Ethiopia has denied Eritrean migrants access to its territory in secret since January 2020 against international law and its open-door policy.

The closure of borders for asylum seekers could subject the Eritrean migrants to use unsafe routes in trying to reach Europe and the US, the UNHCR warned.

Eritrean migrants in Ethiopia have had better chances to go to Europe and the United States in a legal way but after a long waiting time.

Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) this month told employees of donor organizations and international NGOs that the previous migration policy of Ethiopia has created a fertile ground for unaccompanied, illegal and other Eritrean migrants to come to Ethiopia even though they do not qualify immigrant status based on international criteria.

When the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia opened in September 2018, there was a huge influx of Eritreans entering Ethiopia. Despite the border closing again in May 2019, the number of Eritreans crossing continues to remain high.

More than 10,000 Eritrean asylum seekers fled to Ethiopia within the first twenty days of the border reopening, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and between 250 and 300 people are still crossing it daily.

Currently, more than 170,000 Eritrean refugees are living in Ethiopia. The UNHCR reported that an influx of refugees and an under-resourced host community have led to a deterioration of living standards for the migrants.

Younger men and women often choose to move from overcrowded refugee camps to urban areas, such as Addis Ababa, where they struggle to fit into the local job market and pay skyrocketing rents.

Due to the closure of borders by Ethiopia, Eritrean migrants would use the Libyan route to Europe and be subjected to horrific deaths, including hypothermia or fuel inhalation, thirst or hunger in drifting boats, or suffocation in overcrowded cargo, the aid organizations have warned.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afeworki exchanged visits after their countries ended the two-decade enmity in 2018 and signed various diplomatic and economic cooperation agreements. Little is known about the exact relationship between the Abiy Ahmed government in Addis Ababa and the Isaias regime in Asmara, although there are speculations that it is more than the normal relations between two neighboring countries. In a recent interview with Eritrean TV, noting the political instability in Ethiopia, President Isaias hinted his intent to meddle in Ethiopian affairs.

Recently, ARRA announced the decision to shut down the Hintsats refugee camp in Tigray regional state of northern Ethiopia and relocate the over 18,000 Eritrean refugees to other places.

Eritrean migrants and observers claim that both decisions were “politically motivated” as were conspired by the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia.

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