Worsening situation of Eritrean refugees to be the focus of major conference
High interest at a pre visit in Brussels
(29.09.2017) A major conference is taking place in Brussels on the 19th of October 2017, focusing on the plight of Eritrean refugees. The conference, entitled ‘Eritrea and the On-going Refugee Crisis in Europe,’ will address the changing approach on the part of European asylum authorities, governments and the European Commission towards Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers. These issues will be discussed in the context of the worsening human rights crisis in Eritrea as documented by the UN commission of inquiry and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights is Eritrea. Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur, will appear in the conference as a keynote speaker.
In the conference, Eritrean refugees, civil society actors and experts will meet to highlight and discuss the general situation of human rights in Eritrea, including indefinite conscription, forced labour, religious persecution and gender-based violence. The conference will conclude by identifying better mechanisms for the protection of Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees in Europe.
The organizers of the conference have just concluded a three-day visit to Brussels with the aim of inviting participation from EU parliamentarians and policy makers, who will appear in the conference as moderators and discussants. Daniel Mekonnen, from the Eritrean Law Society (ELS) stated after the visit: “we hope that the conference will help in promoting informed decision-making processes on the part of European immigration and asylum authorities.” Rudi Friedrich from Connection e.V. added: “The EU officials consulted during the visit have shown a serious interest in the issues to be discussed at the conference. For us it is clear that, due to the peculiar political situation in their home country, Eritrean refugees do qualify for full protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention”
Eritrea is the fastest emptying country in the world and many of those fleeing the country are finding their way to Europe at huge personal cost. Eritrea continues to occupy a central place in on-going asylum debates in Europe. For more than a decade, Eritreans have been among the largest group of newly arriving refugees, and the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as a “mass grave of refugees” is owed in part to the many victims originating from Eritrea.
More information about the conference can be found at the following links:
Connection e.V., EEPA, ELS, Pro Asyl, EMDHR, Press Release September 29, 2017