The America Team continues to be in touch with Eritrean refugees stuck in Tripoli during the civil strife that has ravaged Libya and enraged the civilized world. Here is late information on some innocent refugees caught in the city:
--- A group of ten that has been holed up in a house since the start of the civil rebellion in Libya has become six in number as some have fled, to a fate that is unknown. The worst is feared. The remaining group consists of five men and one woman, and has subsisted on meager supplies of food and water. They have no medication, and one man suffers from diabetes and had been getting weekly shots to treat his condition. Yesterday, The America Team put the group in touch with Al Wafa, a local NGO that is an affiliate of UNHCR which is not officially active in Libya since forced to close its doors there some months ago. The group’s spokesperson is to meet with Al Wafa today to see what might be done for them. The America Team has also provided details on the group and their need for help, to the Catholic Church in Tripoli, which has been helping in urgent cases as much as resources permit.
--- The America Team has been working with a group of 80 Eritrean refugees also stuck in Tripoli. All in the group had been referred by the UNHCR to the USA for consideration for resettlement there. The Team had referred their case to IOM and UNHCR, the need being to have Department of Homeland Security (DHS) evaluations conducted outside of Libya. Then the civil unrest broke out in Libya. Since then, some of the group have struck out to try to get to Tunisia for sanctuary, with one segment departing just this morning.
The men have been able to get out for supplies and to go to church – there are a Coptic church and a Roman Catholic church there, providing assistance, but they do not take refugees in overnight. Western Union and MoneyGram offices in Tripoli are closed, and we know of no way of getting cash assistance to them. The group has an Eritrean refugee contact in Malta, who has passed on to the US embassy there, the names and registration numbers of all 80 of the group. The Team contacted the embassy and confirmed that the information had been received and accepted. The US embassy in Rome has confirmed with DHS in Washington that this information is in their database as a case in progress. The Eritrean in Malta told us that he is scheduled to go this week to Seattle, Washington, where he will begin his resettlement. While the group is able to get out and gather food and water to store up, they are nervous as to security as the Allied intervention escalates against the irrational regime that so far is in control of the city
Editorial Comment: The government of Eritrea has taken the position that people leaving Eritrea are not fleeing persecution or mistreatment, but rather are simply seeking better economic opportunities – see:
http://www.eritreanrefugees.org/files/Eritrea_says_refugees_not_fleeing.pdf The America Team has received eyewitness accounts that in Israel, where diplomatic relations with Eritrea have been reasonably stable, and where many thousands of Eritrean refugees reside, the Eritrean regime has sent citizens to Israel in order to reinforce the perception that people are not fleeing Eritrea because of persecution. For this, Eritreans are flown to Cairo where they enter Egypt legally. The agents then go overland and enter Israel just as refugees would, and once there, report and announce that they have come for economic opportunity, that there is no oppression in Eritrea. Obviously these individuals sent this way pose no political threat to Eritrea – they may be promised security and protection, or are possibly controlled by threat to family still in Eritrea. Such propaganda has been spread in the USA by supporters of the offending regime living there, some paid by the regime.
With the humanitarian crisis facing refugees from many countries in Libya, offers for sanctuary have been announced by other countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, The Sudan and Tunisia. Absent from the list is Eritrea, who as far as we know, has not uttered one public word in support of Eritreans stuck in Libya. It is not likely that the Eritrean regime really views these individuals as having left Eritrea for new opportunities – as “economic migrants” – but have left for other reasons…