Tanzania rejects Eritrean footballers' asylum bid
13 October 2011 Last updated at 13:30 GMT
Tanzania has rejected an asylum request by 13 young Eritrean footballers who
refused to return home after a regional tournament in July.
The footballers had failed to prove that their lives would be in danger in
Eritrea, a government spokesman said.
A UN official said an appeal would be made to other countries to give refuge
to the former Red Sea FC players.
Young Eritreans often try to escape poverty, a repressive government and
national military service.
Tanzania's home affairs ministry spokesman Isaac Nantanga told the BBC the
players seemed to have applied for asylum because they wanted "greener
pastures" - not because of a lack of security in Eritrea.
The footballers - aged between 18 and 23 - are in the custody of the UN High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNHCR Tanzania representative Oauseyi Bajulaiye told the BBC the UNHCR was
still in discussions with the Tanzanian authorities about their future.
He said the UNHCR would try to find a "safe country" that would give the
footballers "resettlement" status, he said.
In July, the 13 Red Sea FC players failed to board a flight to Eritrea after
being knocked out of the Cecafa Championship during the semi-final stages.
Instead, they went to the UNHCR offices to seek protection.
It was reportedly the fourth time that Eritrean footballers had absconded
while on tour.
Eritrea is a one-party state, ruled by President Isaias Afewerki.
Human rights activists say government critics are routinely arrested and
Red Sea footballersRed Sea FC were knocked out of the Cecafa championship in
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Received on Fri Oct 14 2011 - 12:42:37 EDT