THE Eritrean Foreign Ministry summoned UNHCR representative in the country for stern admonition following its routine dissemination of speculative, politically driven reports on Eritrea that are at variance with the true fats.
Asmara routinely accuses the UNHCR for becoming the main catalyst in bolstering illegal migration of the youth from the country.
Ten years ago, the UNHCR invariably categorized all Eritrean illegal migrants as “prima facia asylum seekers” with out a warrant. Such a deliberate policy by the UNHCR opens the gates of illegal migration of the youth from Eritrea and Ethiopia.
If not for political expediency, what makes Eritrean migrants so special to this UN agency? Of all the people and countries that are facing wars, famine and even genocide in Africa, why is the UNHCR adopt a policy of granting automatic asylum to Eritreans and anyone who claim Eritrean? What makes Eritrean migrants a top priority for the UNHCR?
Since then, the UNHCR publishes periodic “refugee eligibility criteria” cobbled up from dubious sources and never shared with the Eritrean government.
One case in point was the boat tragedy that happened off the Libyan coast last weekend. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that out of the 850 people on board, 350 were Eritreans as well as people from Syria, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Gambia and Ivory Coast.
BBC’s West African correspondent Thomas Fessy, citing IOM figures, said unlike any other year, “Eritreans” constitute the smallest numbers of boat migrants to Europe this year between January – March 2015.
The irony is, therefore, UNHCR pretends to know the exact number of Eritreans on the said boat when it actually does not know the exact number of its victims, nor does the exact number of the other nationalities. How can the only certain figure, beside the apparent 28 survivors, be the 350 “Eritrean”? And if, as Adrian Edwards stated, the number of Eritreans was made clear by the survivors, how many Eritrean survivors have been able to “correctly” identify 350 of their fellow citizens?
In any case, thanks to such preferential treatment by this UN agency along with a flawed and welcoming policy of EU member states promising to grant collective ‘protection’ to any one who claim ‘Eritrean’ now resulted for the present flood of illegal migrants and thousands of deaths at their own gates.
It’s now a common practice by Ethiopians, Somalis and Sudanese migrants to claim “Eritrean” identity during their journey to Europe as it becomes the only guaranteed identity for asylum to Europe. That, however, resulted in a grossly exaggerated and misleading figure of migrants from “Eritrea”.
It doesn’t take to be an ISIS extremist militant to identify an Ethiopian asylum seekers from Eritrean. The recent beheading of 29 Ethiopian christian asylum seekers in Libya by ISIS strips UNHCR’s blanket “Eritrean” migrants figures bare.
In the event, it is odd for the UNHCR to issue intermittent statements or shed crocodile tears on the increasing number of “Eritrean” asylum seekers.
The summoning of its representation by the foreign ministry, therefore, signifies a deterioration of relation between the Eritrean government and the agency and that might eventually lead to the expulsion of its representative out of the country.