Dear Friend ‘Had You Not Push Me, I Would Not Have Fallen Flat on the Ground”

Yebio Woldemariam

According to the dispatch by Radio Erena correspondent and member of ICER, the riot that started in Maiaini and later spread to another refugee camp, Adu Harush after the Lampedusa incident was ostensibly aimed at the corrupted practices of UNHCR and by extension HARA/local authorities who many claim are using the resettlement opportunities to people who does not deserve. This is mean to indicate that Ethiopian nationals and god knows any person with stash of money is using the opportunity to resettle outside the troubled region. Although none of us have concrete evidence showing to that effect one cannot rule out the possibility that the token gesture expressed by the European or North America governments is not immune from such misuse. The point that I tried to make here is that innocent lives was lost few days ago in the wretched camps for something secondary to the main issue, that is, the problem of refugees in Eritrea.

If redeeming the country from such a horrible situation is in mind and for once if the 65,000 strong stop thinking individually but think collectively for the good of the new generation that is certainly posed to pass through the same route you the expectant re-settler, the dead in Sinai, the fish baits in the sea has passed through, clearly your strategy of action must have included an active resistant against the Government of Eritrea. So far we have not seen any action remotely resembling that. Stop blaming UNHCR who is giving you your daily bread. As for the Ethiopians, in particular the Tigrai people you should be thankful for providing you sanctuary. If the GoER is too giant and omnipotent for you to challenge at least begin to fight the human smugglers amongst you and inform any heavy handedness by local officials to some of the ‘good’ Ethiopian authorities. But more significantly, try as hard as you can to reclaim your lost humanity and purposefulness in life by focusing on the real culprit, the EPLF. The old Roman literature says it all ‘The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars. But in ourselves ...’

Below  is the full dispatch by Meron Estifanos

Fatalities as Lampadusa memorial turn into an angry protests in Eritrean refugee camps in Ethiopia

Meron Estifanos

(Mai Ayni 07/10/2013) According to the refugees that I spoke to, three people have died and scores more injured at two separate incidences, at the Eritrean refugee camps in northern Ethiopia.

On Saturday 5th of October, two days after the boat accident that claimed the lives of hundreds of Eritrean refugees off the cost of Lampedusa, a memorial vigil at Mai Ayni refugee camp turned violent as when refugees started expressing their outrage at their own situation which is leading many in their ranks to consider the journey off the Libyan shores as a more viable option. The police open fire to disperse the riot and wounding four unaccompanied children in the care of a child care charity.

The unrest then spread to other refugee camps and this morning protests at Adi Harish Camp resulted in the death of three refugees and many other casualties.
Refugees who contacted Eritrean independent  Radio Erena, disclosed that whilst the initial objectives of the gatherings was to remember those who perished in the Lampedusa disaster, but quickly turned into a protest over what refugees considered corruption in the refugee resettlement process as well as issues over camp security.

It is estimated that there are over 65,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, spread over four refugee camps, in the regions bordering Eritrea as well in the capital as Urban Refugees. The refugees believe that many of those who are making the perilous journey via Libya and the Sahara Desert do so because the resettlement program in Ethiopian refugee camps is corrupt with many Ethiopians being given bogus refugee statuses that qualify them for resettlement opportunities and often they are prioritized over genuine refugees.

The UNHCR estimate that up to 3,000 refugees leave Eritrea every month and a majority of those are currently in refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia.

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