Home | News    Saturday 4 June 2016

UNHCR urges Sudan to halt forcibly deporting Eritreans

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

June 3, 2016 (ADDIS ABEBA) - The UN refugee agency on Thursday urged Sudan, to stop forcibly deporting hundreds of Eritrean back to their country saying it is unlawful and contrary to international laws on refugees.

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Eritrean migrants wait aboard a navy ship in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, March 4, 2015 (Photo Reuters/Antonio Parrinello)

In a short statement it issued and extended to Sudan Tribune, UNHCR said the Eritrean refugees could be subjected to prosecution and risk detention and abuse at the hands of the “brutal” regime in Asmera.

The UN refugee agency’s concerns over “collective expulsions” of Eritreans comes one day after Human Rights Watch revealed that Sudanese authorities has deported at least 442 Eritreans, including six registered refugees, to Eritrea in May 2016.

According to UNHCR, on May 6 the Sudanese authorities arrested 377 people in the Sudanese border town of Dongola as they tried to cross to Libya.

Among them were the 313 Eritreans, including six who had already registered as refugees in Sudan, and 64 Ethiopians, none of whom were registered refugees.

All were tried and convicted of “illegal entry” into Sudan. Sudan deported the Eritreans, including 14 children, on May 22, and continues to detain the Ethiopians.

UNHCR also confirmed that a few days earlier, the Sudanese authorities deported 129 Eritreans to their country.

Many of those Eritreans deported were those arrested as they tried to enter Libya from Sudan.

“They were tried and convicted of illegal entry into Sudan ... and were forcibly returned to Eritrea on 22 May” The refugee UN agency said.

The latest expulsion included six Eritreans who were registered refugees. Others had not applied for asylum but it remains unclear if they had been given the opportunity to do so. Individuals have the right to apply for asylum at any time and to be offered access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure.

UNHCR said the forcible return of refugees, asylum-seekers, or others who may be in need of international protection to their country of origin may amount to refoulement as prohibited by Sudanese domestic law, as well as the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 1969 OAU Convention, international human rights law, and customary international law.

UNHCR called on the Sudanese government to respect its obligations under international and Sudanese law further urged the Sudanese government to refrain from forcible return of Eritreans back to their country of origin.

Sudan is being a key transit route for African migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to finally reach Europe.

The latest deportations came as EU reportedly reached a deal with Khartoum to stem migrant flow towards Europe.

European Union is trying to work to manage the flow of migrants to flow with at least 8 African countries.

According to reports Sudan will tighten its border control and intercept refugees who use its soil as a transit to illegally cross to Europe.

Sudan will in return be provided with a total of £40 million along with seven other African countries within three years.

Following the secret deal, Sudan has reportedly rounded up some 900 Eritreans Khartoum last week.

Eritreans are fleeing to one of world’s most repressive regime.

Hundreds of Eritreans risk their life to sneak out the heavily guarder Eritrean borders where there exists a shoot to kill policy against any citizen trying to cross the border.

Families of an Asylum seeker who manage to make it to a neighbouring country will be fined or could be imprisoned.

(ST)

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