October 28, 2007 (MEKELLE, Ethiopia) — The north Ethiopia Adwa town labour and social affairs bureau said a total of 881 Ethiopians have arrived home late on Saturday expelled from Eritrea..
Office head, Hailemicheal Woldeslase, told Sudan tribune by telephone today that "881 Ethiopians including women and children, who were stack in Eritrea for years have arrived Ethiopia through the help of Red Cross."
According to the official, 42 of the returnees were in ‘Enda oem’detention center facing harsh treatment.
The official said "The disaster prevention and food security bureau has now provided them with basic needs” adding “2 million Ethiopian birr is allocated for their rehabilitation”
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia after a referendum in 1993. Relations between the two countries deteriorated after that, culminating in the 1998-2000 border war. A December 2000 peace agreement ended the war, but failed to address the plight of those who had been deported.
Since both countries practiced expulsion and deportation against the national of the other country. The plight of some 75,000 ethnic Eritreans who were living in Ethiopia when the war broke out in 1998 has yet to be resolved, said a HRW report.
Ethiopians living in Eritrea suffered a similar plight in 1998. A few months after the war broke out, the Eritrean government interned some 7,500 people and deported thousands, the report added.
In both sides, the detainees were subjected to torture, rape or other degrading treatment, HRW said.
Some of the returnees interviewed by telephone said they were kidnapped by Eritrean authorities for several years without apparent reason.
One of the returnees, Tsegay Belay, who was working in a private agricultural farming sector, said “a group of Eritrean soldiers in vehicle approach my farm land and took me away”
“It definitely was kidnapping” he added
Tsegay was then taken to two different detention centers where he was kept behind the bars for 9 months.
“I didn’t get back to my farm land, nor did I know where my properties were ever since I was jailed” Tsegay told Sudan Tribune.
“I still don’t know the reason why I was jailed” but shouting happily through the phone he said “now I am once again born”
Another returnee, an electrician, on condition of anonymity said “I was snatched from the workshop I used to work by some government agents, and arrested for a whole year just Because I was Ethiopian”.
He said I would rather refuse to tell my name because for every word I speak here with you, consequences could be followed to my families, who are left behind.”
The returnees said thousands of other Ethiopians are still stacked in Eritrea on fear and daily threats because they couldn’t manage to pay Labor tax or the 1,000 Ethiopia birr Eritrean government asks before leave home for every Ethiopian.
Many unknown number of Ethiopian are still out there in different secret detention areas on political cases they added.
Following the Ethio-Eritrean war an average of 80 thousand Ethiopians have returned home through Red Cross continued efforts.