Eritrean refugees who took part at the second Red Sea Afar peoples conference in Afar region of Semera town said that the UNHCR has failed to meet its pledges of a third country resettlement to the Eritrean Afar refuges, currently residing at two Ethiopia refugee camps near the borders to Eritrea.
Representatives of the Afar refugees said the UNHCR has not yet begun assisting them to their demand of third country resettlement despite pledges 5 years ago.
Currently Ethiopia hosts about 50,000 Eritrean refuges in five different camps among whom some 8,000 of them are Eritreans belonging to the Afar ethnic minority.
Mohamed Abdu is chairman of the Afar refugees youth association in Asayta refugee camp located in the barren Afar region of Ethiopia. He fled to Ethiopia in 2005 after he repeatedly received threats on his life from government agents for refusing to continue with the Eritrean Army.
He says the UNHCR is doing little to help Eritrean Afar refugees despite pledges to access them resettlement program and to improve their situation at the dire refugee camp.
« Since 2006 The UNHCR has been resettling thousands of non-Afar Eritrean refuges to different western countries, however no Afar ethnic refugee has so far resettled under the program, » Mohamed Abdu said
« As we are all Eritreans we should equally be treated no matter which ethnic group we come from, » he added.
Mohamed Abdu urged the UNHCR to respect its pledge and immediately take action.
Afar refugees are currently residing in Ethiopia’s Berahle and Aysaita refugee camps where temperature reaches as high as 42 degree centigrade.
According to an assessment done by Sudan Tribune, the Afar refugees in these two remote camps don’t get international standards of all the necessary aid and support.
Children are malnourished due lack of essential nutrients and basic medical supplies. Lots of women remain under bad health condition and others are anxious of despair.
Another representative of the refugees on a condition of anonymity, for safety reasons, told Sudan tribune that situation in Asayta camp is getting worse as UNHCR and other donors gave little or no attention.
« We get 15kg of wheat and 1 ½ liter of edible oil, nothing else. How can a human being sustain life with the two supplies alone? » he said
« Unlike other refugee camps here in Asayta there is almost no medical care, no pure water, and no access to education or vocational training »
Human rights sources reported that, in Eritrea, thousands of people are imprisoned, disappeared and killed by Eritrean security forces indiscriminately in different places.
In a statement after the 2 day conference the red sea Afar people called on the international community for an immediate act to halt atrocities racially and politically motivated abuse, harassment and mal-treatment and discrimination being carried out against the Afars in particular and to all innocent Eritreans in general.
During the two day meeting which ended today Canada based Afar Organisation, known as Can go Afar said it has began activities to begin a third country resettlement program and provide additional relief aid to the refugees.
Can go Afar Representative, Warren Christopher said his organization currently is working with the Canadian government to begin resettlement program to the refugees.
He added that can go Afar will continue to assist the Afar people interims of providing fund to educate children, provide clean water, improve healthcare and in providing protection and rights.
Can-Go Afar is a humanitarian organization that aims to empower the ancient nomadic Afar people in the Horn of Africa to build a brighter future, by boosting awareness and advocacy for the voiceless, by providing education and literacy for the next generation, and by delivering health and food relief for the desperate.