Refugees from Eritrea

Story posted on November 3, 2009 at 8:40 PM

HelloMy name is Mebrak Habteselassie I am 27 years old refugee from Eritrea.I came to USA when I was 13 years old as a refugee. I want to tell you how it feels to be Eritrean refugees or the life of refugees in USA and outside of USA as Eritrean refugees.Million people "refugees and internally displaced" had fled their homes because of war, persecution, and human rights abuses more than one million Eritrean refugees languished in exile abroad, more than half of them in urban slums and rural refugee camps in Sudan Eritreans that lived in Ethiopia were also expelled in 1998 when full-scale fighting broke out again. In 2000 Eritreans had been permanently disabled, hundreds of thousands dead. A third of the population was displaced, a third of those people being children. Now many Eritrea are asylum seeker in Libya, UKEritrea is currently among the top refugee-producing nations in the world. Fleeing the country is truly a last resort because the conditions facing refugees abroad are appalling and the punishments inflicted on asylum seekers who are forcibly returned are terrible, including torture and death. The Eritrean government considers leaving the country without a valid exit visa a crime, and absconding from national service is viewed as tantamount to treason. Leaving Eritrea is not an easy undertaking. As described above, heavily patrolled borders, mine-fields, and a shoot-to-kill policy make escape from Eritrea difficult. Despite this, thousands of people are leaving the country. The majority of refugees end up in Ethiopia and Sudan in overcrowded refugee camps. An increasing number try to make it to Europe via Sudan and Libya. They face difficult conditions crossing the Sahara and risk detention and extortion at the hands of Libyan and Sudanese police. Those who elect to take another route to Israel or Egypt run the risk of being forcibly returned without having their asylum claims assessed, as a recent 2008 wave of returns from Israel to Egypt and Egypt to Eritrea has demonstrated. Many others have risked hazardous crossings of the Red Sea to get to Yemen around 600 Eritreans were crossing into Ethiopia every month at least 10,000 Eritrean refugees arrived in Sudan more than 3,000 Eritreans entered Italy, the main entry point for Eritrean asylum-seekers to the European Union The problems facing those who decide to flee Eritrea do not end when they cross the border. Indeed, their problems are only beginning. Despite the terrible human rights record of the Eritrean government, Eritrean refugees are often forcibly returned without regard to their rights under international refugee law and in spite of standing UNCHR guidance that even rejected Eritrean asylum seekers should be provided with some form of alternative protection instead of being forced to return home.Currently most refugees who flee Eritrea to Sudan either settle in refugee camps in eastern Sudan or transit onward within the country or to other countries in search of a safer and more stable existence. Those not in camps in Sudan are extremely vulnerable to abuse, in particular extortion and forcible return by the Sudanese authoritiesSudanese security services have links to Eritrean security agents Even getting to Sudan is hazardous for Eritreans. Asylum seekers Egypt returned to Eritrea up to 1,200 Eritreans who had crossed into Egypt from Sudan. As of late 2008, at least 740 of those returnees were still imprisoned in the military detention facility in Eritrea.