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Int’l delegation lauds Ethiopia for handling Eritrean refugees

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January 20, 2009 (TIGRAY, MEKELLE) — A delegation from 10 donor countries and 8 international organizations praised the government of Ethiopia to the way it is handling the Eritrean refugees for their safe stay in camps.

The representatives drawn from EU, US and Canada paid a 3 day visit at two refugee camps namely Shimelba and Mai-Ayni and also at an asylum screening center in the northern Tigray region.

"The aim of the visit is to let donor nations visualize the situation on ground so a clear understanding is created to bring more support to the refugees for their better life tomorrow" Ayalew Abebe, deputy director of Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs(ARRA) said.

"Although Ethiopia, in a responsible way is doing its utmost to assist and shelter the refugees but with their influx increasing at an alarming rate with time more support from the international community has become very crucial at this point" He added.

The representatives to their side commended Ethiopia’s all over efforts to host and assist the refugees.

"Two parts of the Ethiopian government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) along with international organizations have been very active in assisting Eritrean refugees coming to Ethiopia by setting up additional refugee camps and by providing all the necessary needs to make sure the refugees well stay, safety, protection and security once they arrive in Ethiopia" representative to the delegation said.

"Ethiopia should be applauded and recommended for the efforts it is applying for the betterment of the refugee’s life," he added.

The delegation has promised to do more to help the refugees and under scored the need to work close together with Ethiopian government so the needs of the refugees are met.

According to ARRA, over 30,000 Eritrean refugees are currently being sheltered at four camps. An average of 300-400 Eritreans every month risks their life to cross borders to Ethiopia.

Shimelba, the first camp for Eritrean refuge sited 57 kms south of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border alone is a home for 16.000 Eritrean refugees who fled home in protest to mandatory military service religious and other forms of prosecution.

The delegation has also held discussions with the Eritrean refugees on various social-related issues.

A representative from the refugees witnessed the delegation that the way Ethiopia authorities received them from day one was in full respect, in dignity and like their own citizens not like they were from a country that went to a bloody border war that killed 70,000 people.

The refugees also told the delegation that grave political and socio-economic situation of their country, tyrannical leadership, and worsen human right situation in their country were the major causes that drove them to fled to neighbor country.

Meanwhile among the refugees some 6500 of them whom America granted them for asylum will fly out to the US beginning next month. Sudan Tribune learnt.

Since 2001 Ethiopia in cooperation with the international organization has resettled thousands of Eritreans to different western countries.

(ST)

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