Brussels Conference Declaration by over 200 members of the Eritrean Diaspora
(Brussels, 14 December) Today over 200 representatives of the Eritrean diaspora met in Brussels and called for the EU to fulfil its duty, and protect African political migrants that are suffering in detention camps in Libya.
The delegates who attended the conference represent communities from Europe, Africa, and North America also called for the EU to stop supporting governments that are complicit with criminal human trafficking gangs. Proper mechanisms must be created that will allow those being persecuted to be evacuated, protected, supported and resettled in a dignified way and the EU must take its fair share.
A delegation for the conference met with relevant members of the European External Action Service and afterwards members of the Eritrean diaspora assembled outside the offices demanding a reversal of EU policy.
During the closing remarks of the conference the prominent Eritrea human rights defender and Noble Prize nominee, Fr Mussie Zerai appealed to EU leaders by saying:
“We are asking the EU to stop providing political support and finance to regimes in Northern and Eastern Africa which are colluding with human traffickers. This is well documented and is leading to the torture, extortion and even murder of refugees who are fleeing repression.”
“Europe can’t close its eyes to the refugees who are stranded in Libya’s detention centres, and who are at constant risk. A solution needs to be found to immediately evacuate the more than 10,000 Eritrean’s refugees, many of whom are unaccompanied children, and bring them to places of safety and dignity.”
“The rights of the vulnerable are being ignored and their voice is not heard. We appeal to the European Union to fulfil its duty in protecting the weak instead of abstract borders.”
The final follows
Declaration: Call to stop Human Trafficking in Eritrea, Sudan and Libya and ensure that the migrants in Europe and Israel are properly welcomed
“We the People: Peace in the Horn & the Safety and Future of the Eritrean People.”
Brussels Conference, 12-14 December, 2018
The conference “We the People, Peace in the Horn & the Safety and Future of the Eritrean People” was held with over 200 representatives and members of the Eritrean diaspora, delegations from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Canada, the United States, Italy, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland and the representatives of the 25,500 Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel who were not allowed to travel due to lack of legal status. The situation of the Eritrean people following the peace process in the Horn was considered. The conference coincided with the EU Summit which discussed a multi-annual financial package for migration.
Hearing new witness evidence, the conference welcomed the peace process in the Horn, but expressed grave concern that the Eritrean people continue to suffer under the desperate and slave-like conditions during indefinite national service, arbitrary detentions and that political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are still held in incommunicado detention.
The conference heard first-hand witness reports of the situation in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya, the wider African continent, Israel and Europe. The conference heard of the increased influx of Eritrean refugees into Ethiopia, and for many the onward movement to other countries while in the hands of human traffickers.
The conference considered the evidence of the involvement of Eritrean officials in the human trafficking of its people and the protection of those involved in human trafficking of the Eritrean people. The conference welcomed the UN and EU sanctions adopted in June 2018 on those responsible for the criminal organisation and harbouring of human trafficking including Eritrean authorities who are implicated in these abuses. Based on the evidence heard the conference:
- Vehemently condemns the involvement of Eritrean top officials in human trafficking of Eritrean citizens across the Eritrean borders;
- Strongly condemns the European Union’s Khartoum process to fight human trafficking, under the chairmanship of Eritrea, a country which protects and harbours Eritrean top officials involved in human trafficking of its people and has failed to fight the practice;
- Strongly condemns human trafficking through torture, rape, sexual violence and extortion, leading vulnerable refugees into dehumanised, slave-like conditions;
- Condemns in the strongest way, the financing of military and militia-groups through governments and authorities in Libya, Sudan and Eritrea and elsewhere, criminalising protection-seeking refugees and failing to provide safety for victims of human trafficking;
- Strongly condemns the lack of transformation in Eritrea, the continued and indefinite national service and slave-like conditions of desperation and lack of freedom in Eritrea, calling members of the reserve army, the random arrests and disappearances, the exploitation of Eritrean people in desperate poverty and state of powerlessness;
- The systematic attack on and dispossession of all communities such as the Afar.
The conference calls on the African Union, the European Union, Israel and the international community to:
- Seek constructive collaboration on migration and refugee policy in full protection of international law, human rights law and women’s’ rights, peace and security mandates;
- End any financial support provided directly or indirectly to military and militia in Libya, Sudan and Eritrea and elsewhere for the combat of human trafficking, that can be abused by them;
- investigate the involvement of military and militia in human trafficking;
- Urgently lead joint action to evacuate Eritrean refugees held in torture houses in Libya, and bring them to safety and for increased efforts of solidarity to resettle vulnerable refugees and minors;
- Stop criminalising groups and individuals attempting to undertake rescue missions or to protect refugees in and around the Mediterranean;
- Stop the detention of refugees in dehumanised conditions in camps and ensure the integration and participation in society and ensure the protection of women and children, especially separated and unaccompanied minors;
- Learn from countries, such as Uganda, to integrate refugees productively in societies and create constructive win-win situations for those in need of protection and home-communities;
- Immediately stop any refoulement and plans for deportation of refugees to Eritrea, as long as their lives are in danger in Eritrea and the situation does not allow for a safe return;
- Prosecute the organisation of human trafficking from the top downwards under the rule of law and immediately release those proven innocent of such crimes;
- Urgently step up efforts for collaboration on the protection of refugees and victims of human trafficking, especially Eritrean refugees across both continents;
- Seek reforms in Eritrea – that includes ending the indefinite national service, unconditionally freeing all political prisoners and implementing the constitution – so that Eritrean refugees can safely return to their homeland;
- Urgently step up efforts to protect the minorities in the Horn region, among which the Afar and to involve the Eritrean people, including women, within the peace process and mediation;
- End all criminalisation of humanitarian action and solidarity between peace-seeking people, refugees and victims of human trafficking;
- Help and support the Eritrean diaspora to continue working towards peace in the Horn and safety and a secure future of the Eritrean people.
We pledge to strengthen our networks and continue dialogue and make a positive contribution to the Improvement of the situation in Eritrea. We call on the EU, AU and international community to support our objective in promoting dialogue.
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