An exiled Eritrean opposition political organization has denounced what it said was a "security arrangement" between Eritrea and Yemen to deport thousands of Eritrean refugees, most ethnically Afar fishermen who sought asylum in the Gulf state.
The Ethiopia-based Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) on
Thursday told Sudan Tribune that, Yemeni Interior Minister, Abdul-Qader
Qahtan, and Eritrean ambassador to Yemen, Musa Yasin, has held
discussions last week on common security concerns.
The two sides conferred over ways of curbing illegal immigration from
the Red Sea nation to the Yemeni coast and reviewed the situations of
the Yemeni and Eritrean fishermen who depend on traditional fishing for
living from the shared water territory.
During the bilateral talks the two sides agreed to set mechanisms to deport illegal Eritrean refugees in Yemen.
RSADO has expressed concerns over the planed deportation and called on the international community to intervene.
"The recent security agreement between Yemen and Eritrea violates
international rights of refugees to seek asylum" Abdu Sheik Mohamed, the
head of RSADO's Political Department to the international community,
told Sudan Tribune.
Yemen is one the few countries in the region which is signatory the
1951 Geneva's Refugee Convention, however the country is accused of
being "unfriendly" to refugees particularly to asylum seekers from East
The Eritrean opposition official called on the international
community to put pressure on Yemen to reverse the "illegal security
arrangement" which if implemented would lead to forcible deportation of
thousands of Eritrean Afar refugees.
If deported, the Eritrean nationals will face a serious risk of
prosecutions by the regime back home, including lengthy jail terms in
harsh prison facilities or a possible punishment of death, according to
Following the security meeting between Asmara and Sana, prison
officials have began to threaten and take action against the refugees
Accordingly, on September 27, 2012 Yemen special forces went to a
detention center, where deserted Eritrean Navy members are also being
held, and started to force them out of the camp for deportation, however
the attempt was foiled after a strong resistance from the imprisoned
Since President Issayas Afeworki assumed power in 1991, tens and
thousands of Eritreans have fled the regimes extreme political
repression to neighbouring countries.
Eritrea requires all citizens above 18 and aged under 50 to serve in the military indefinitely.
Eritrean has also intensified repression against minority groups such
as the Afars and Kunamas who continually face persecution,
imprisonment, torture or death by regime's agents who accuse them of
cooperating in spying activities with their fellow Afar and Kunama
brothers in Ethiopia.
Eritrean Afars and Yemini fishermen, both residing side by side along
the territorial waters of both countries are historical interrelated
and Eritrean Afars fear that the recently planned security measures
would affect the age long traditional and economic ties between the two
In fear of prosecution, thousands of Eritrean Afars annually flee to
Yemen by their small fishing boats. Dozens of Navy members have also
deserted with their speed boats to Yemen in the past.
Anyone who leaves the country without permission is labeled as a
deserter or traitor by the regime and if caught would risk a serious
AFAR REFUGEES IN ETHIOPIA
Meanwhile, Eritrean Afar refugees at a camp in Ethiopia this week
demonstrated in protest to the planned security measures arranged by
Eritrea and Yemen, an organizing group said.
Some 800 Eritrean Afar refugees rallied in the streets of Semera, a
city in Ethiopia's Afar region near the borders to Eritrea, where they
voiced their opposition to the security arrangement.
Reached by phone, head of the Eritrean Refugees' Youth League in
Ethiopia, Ahmed Ela-Miso, told Sudan Tribune that the demonstration was
in protest to the deportation plan arranged in the pretext of Security
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 but almost two
decades on the Horn of Africa neighbours still dispute where the border
between them lies. This was the major course of their 1998-2000