The plight of Ethiopian refugees has gone from bad to worse in the past few years. Thousands who have fled to war torn Somali and to the port of Bosaso to make the dangerous sea trip to Yemen have perished in their hundreds as cruel traffickers throw them to sharks and Yemeni soldiers attack them with speed boats and guns. Thousands have drowned now from Yemen to the Mediterranean.
Sudan, Britain, France, Germany, Djibouti and Kenya have deported Ethiopian refugees to what could amount to long prison terms, torture and even death and disappearance. Sudan deported 15 refugees just a few months ago and they are all incarcerated and being mistreated while one, Atanaw Wassie, has disappeared till now.
The countries that politically consider Ethiopia a safe country and resort to deportation (French police have killed an Ethiopian refugee as they tried to put him on a plane by force) are doing so for political reasons since there is no secret that the Meles Zenawi regime is one of the worst human rights violators in Africa. Britain, that loudly denounces Mugabe in Zimbabwe, has cuddled up to the more repressive regime in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian refugees in Bosaso, Somalia, have been attacked and killed by armed Somali insurgents opposed to the invasion by the troops of Meles.
In the dangerous and precarious places that are the countries bordering Ethiopia, the UNHCR has failed to protect Ethiopian refugees. Libya has imprisoned hundreds in the desert without any UNHCR taking any meaningful action to protest against the inhumane treatment of Ethiopian refugees by Libya. At a lesser level, the condition of Ethiopian refugees in Egypt, Israel and some Arab countries is also bad.
It is evident, given the political and economic situation in Ethiopia, there will be more and more refugees from Ethiopia. Those foreign powers that aid this repressive regime must be held responsible for the plight of the refugees. The refugees deserve protection and are entitled to protection and asylum rights. Fortress Europe and Fortress America cannot be built. The reality of more and more refugees (it is actually African countries that are host to millions) is here to stay so long as repressive regime backed by foreign powers are in existence.