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VOA: East African Refugees Make Indefinite Home for Themselves in Indonesia July 27, 2017

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Pasar Minggu Baru is a quiet, leafy neighborhood for refugees and asylum seekers, whose paths to there have been long and fraught, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

Pasar Minggu Baru is a quiet, leafy neighborhood for refugees and asylum seekers, whose paths to there have been long and fraught, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)


Ranna, 24, an Oromo Ethiopian woman, is not only a third-generation refugee, but also a two-time refugee. Indonesia, which is home now, is the second place to which she has been displaced in her young life.

She was born in Saudi Arabia because her mother, the daughter of a prominent dissident, fled Ethiopia before her birth. But that country did not recognize asylum-seekers and she was officially stateless. After a brief interlude in Ethiopia, where she was deported to at age 16 and where she earned a bachelor’s degree, she was again forced to flee during a government crackdown on Oromo activists in 2015.

After a harrowing interlude in Djibouti, where she says Oromo asylum-seekers were being rounded up and deported because of an agreement with the Ethiopian government, Ranna’s smuggler booked her, her mother and her brother on a flight to Indonesia. It was a country where they knew no one and did not speak the language.

Pasar Minggu Baru abuts a commuter rail line, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

Pasar Minggu Baru abuts a commuter rail line, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

They were granted refugee status within a year and able to make a home in Pasar Minggu Baru, a South Jakarta neighborhood that abuts a commuter train line and station. Over the last three years, the neighborhood has come to house an enclave of East African refugees and asylum-seekers, some of whom arrived, like Ranna, through unscrupulous smugglers. Others got stuck in transit when Australia blocked maritime refugee arrivals in 2014.

East African asylum seekers face years-long wait times to even be granted refugee status in Indonesia, according to Trish Cameron, an independent refugee lawyer based in Jakarta. And if that happens, they face even longer wait times for resettlement out of Indonesia — if they are resettled at all, which is not a given, especially as developed countries have closed their doors in recent years.

“There’s not really anywhere to go right now,” said Ranna.

Pasar Minggu Baru community

There are about 200 Oromo refugees in Jakarta, according to Cameron, and “hundreds” of East African refugees in Pasar Minggu Baru. Ranna said she finds it quite safe.

An alleyway in Pasar Minggu Baur, which is home to many East African refugees, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

An alleyway in Pasar Minggu Baur, which is home to many East African refugees, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

“They don’t make you feel like a stranger, maybe because refugees have been hosted here for a long time,” said Ranna. There also is a small Arab market nearby, a happy coincidence because her family speaks Arabic from their time in Saudi Arabia.

Although Ranna has been a Muslim her whole life, she began wearing a headscarf only when she moved to Jakarta, out of respect, she said, for her neighbors.

About 16 percent of the 14,093 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR Indonesia are from East Africa, said Mitra Salima Suryono, a spokesperson for the agency. Most are from Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, plus a handful from Eritrea, Uganda and Mozambique.

Today, Ranna volunteers intensively as a translator — she is fluent in Oromo, Arabic, Amharic and English, and is now conversational in Bahasa Indonesia — to help asylum-seekers in her community prepare for their interviews.

Oromo unrest

The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, split about evenly between Muslims and Christians [Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant], and account for about one-third of the country’s population.

The protests that began in 2015 grew out of a grass-roots movement led by students in the Oromia region. There also is a history of armed struggle for self-determination, however, led by the Oromo Liberation Front, an opposition group formed in 1973 after a military coup. The government has outlawed the OLF as a terrorist organization and blames anti-government protests on OLF and other groups that it labels “anti-peace elements.”

Ranna’s grandfather was a member of OLF and was the earliest family member to flee Ethiopia as a refugee. Although Ranna came to her homeland only as a young adult, she quickly picked up the nationalist energy that ran through her family. She became a prominent student activist and public health official, and was in her first year of medical school when she had to leave for Indonesia.

“There is grief inside me whenever I think about our people,” said Ranna. “Even in my short time there I could see how wrong it was.”

She spent a night in jail (“it felt like a year”) for her activism, but her middle brother suffered a worse fate before he could flee: He simply disappeared.

Human Rights Watch says more than 800 protesters have been killed since the unrest began in November 2015 and thousands more people have been arrested.

In December 2016, the Ethiopian government announced it would release nearly 10,000 people detained for “rehabilitation.”

Ranna’s youngest brother had just finished 10th grade when they fled, and in him, she sees signs of the aimless boredom that is now typical of the refugee experience in Indonesia, where refugees cannot legally work or attend school. Her mother has diabetes, and is in and out of hospitals.

She still manages to make spongy injera bread in their makeshift house. Ranna herself has acute anxiety and trouble sleeping at night, bearing, as she does, the weight of her family and community, and extant fears about the Ethiopian state.

Ranna doesn’t regret her activism, even as she and her family prepare for an indefinite stay in Indonesia. “I couldn’t see people dying in front of me and do nothing,” she said. “I could not.”

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IRIN: Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development July 6, 2017

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Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home. 

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain. – IRIN News

Loren B. Landau

Professor at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Caroline Kihato

Associate professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg


South Africa’s National Assembly recently passed a bill to set up a new border management agency. The Border Management Authority will fall under Home Affairs, a government department long distinguished by its lack of respect for immigrant and refugee rights. But there are other, deeper causes for concern.

Whereas previously, police and customs officers were under strict (if not always effective) civilian oversight, this new agency will be able to circumvent constitutional constraints. Broader changes to immigration and asylum policies are also in the works, such as a “risk-based” vetting system that could be used to justify barring most people from entering the country overland. Bolstering these efforts are plans to detain asylum seekers at processing centres dotted along the border.

South Africa’s new border management strategy has equivalents across the continent that likely do little to prevent smuggling and human trafficking or to stop terrorism – the justifications often used for such securitisation. Instead, they help reinforce authoritarian leadership and undermine regional governance initiatives. In the longer term, they are likely to impact development.

Free movement – within countries or to neighbouring areas – is central to people finding work and surviving in these precarious times. Constraints on such movement, whatever the source, are fundamentally anti-poor and anti-freedom. They treat migrants as suspected criminals, rather than as people legitimately seeking protection or employment. Many of these policies are being implemented with aid from the European Union and strong domestic support. Countries like Eritrea already maintain a repressive “exit visa” system while Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger, and Sudan are all planning enhanced border management strategies, including bio-metric tracking and militarisation.

Containment era

Militarising the margins has become an integral plank in the continent’s new approach to “migration management”. Following the Valletta Summit in late 2015, the EU created a trust fund that is funnelling billions of euros of development aid through bilateral arrangements with African states, including those with appalling human rights records, such as Sudan and Eritrea. Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home.

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), already has a working protocol, it has been compromised by fears of terrorism and EU-funded programmes to deter migration through the region. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), proposals modelled on the ECOWAS framework are now less likely to move forward. This domesticates politics in ways that weaken the regional governance mechanisms needed to address collective development concerns and negotiate more favourable global trade positions. In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

Growth industry

What is perhaps most worrying is how emergent border management approaches are likely to extend and proliferate beyond borders. Efforts promoted by the EU, with complicity from many African leaders, effectively seek to limit movement and freedom across and within countries. Europe fears that any movement – typically towards cities – will beget further moves, some of which will be towards the European motherland.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain.

(TOP PHOTO: South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Guy Oliver/IRIN)

ll-ck/ks/ag


 

The Guardian: EU urged to end cooperation with Sudan after refugees whipped and deported February 28, 2017

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MEP calls for inquiry as Ethiopian and Eritrean asylum seekers receive 40 lashes and $800 fines, while activists warn EU migration aid is emboldening Sudan.

Migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia are detained in Omdourman, on the western outskirts of the capital Khartoum, after Sudanese forces caught them travelling illegally on the Libyan-Sudan border on January 8, 2017.
People from Somalia and Ethiopia are detained on the outskirts of Khartoum in January 2017. Activists say Sudan’s crackdown on migrants and refugees has escalated. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

The EU is facing calls to rethink its cooperation with Sudan on migration flows after scores of refugees were whipped, fined, jailed and deported from Khartoum last weekend following a peaceful protest over a huge rise in visa processing fees.

About 65 asylum seekers – the majority from Ethiopia and some from Eritrea – were lashed 40 times on their backs and the back of their legs with leather whips, lawyers told the Guardian.

The detainees were also handed fines of more than $800 (£645), and 40 were deported immediately, after being arrested in what witnesses say was a violent police attack on a peaceful protest.

The incident raises concerns about the strength of human rights conditions attached to more than $100m of migration-related aid earmarked for Sudan by the European commission.

The MEP Barbara Lochbihler, vice-chair of the European parliament’s sub-committee on human rights, said the EU should launch an inquiry. “The EU must voice clear criticism on the recent incidents, conduct a thorough investigation, try and help the people concerned, and draw the necessary conclusion: if projects such as Better MigrationManagement carry the risk for the EU to become complicit in human rights abuses, which I believe to be true, we should pull out immediately.”

Judith Sargentini, an MEP on the European parliament’s development committee, said she would be asking a question about the issue in parliament this week.

“Honestly, when we see Ethiopian refugees being harassed, lashed and thrown out of the country, we have to wonder whether we are not legitimising the Sudanese behaviour with our funding,” she said.

“The [EU] training for immigration and border management does not seem to be working very effectively yet,” she added. “I can imagine that [Sudan’s president Omar] al-Bashir thinks he has more manoeuvring space because the EU money is coming.”

A human rights worker in Sudan, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, said the regime’s brutality towards refugees had worsened in the last year as EU cooperation had increased.

“The crackdown on migrants and refugees has escalated,” the activist said. “The government feels empowered to do whatever they want. They think they can get away with human rights violations like this. They see them as goodwill gestures to the EU to show they are controlling the flow of migrants.”

The commission has pledged nearly €2bn to countries taking steps to curb migration to the EU in an emergency trust fund for Africa. Sudan separately received €100m of funds last year to improve border security and address causes of forced displacement.

Sudan is also benefiting from €40m (£34m) set aside under the Khartoum Process’s Better Migration Management scheme to help restrict refugee flows in central and east Africa.

These revenues could be used to pay for military and police border management posts, surveillance systems, transport vehicles, communications, protective police gear, IT systems, infrastructure and power supplies.

EU officials deny that any revenues will go to government forces such as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), border guards on Sudan’s Libyan frontier linked to the notorious Janjaweed militia.

The RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan, known as Hemedity, last year demanded that the EU replace vehicles and weapons lost while his force rounded up 20,000 migrants.

“We are hard at work to aid Europe in containing the flow of migrants, and if our valuable efforts are not well appreciated, we will open the desert to migrants,” Hemedity said.

But it was a Khartoum court’s police that whipped and deported the asylum seekers, not the RSF. Most of those arrested were Oromo people fleeing ethnic and political repression. The court case that followed also fell short of international standards, according to local lawyers.

“It was not a fair trial,” claimed Montasir Mohammed, a lawyer for two of the arrestees. “No legal representatives were allowed to attend the court, and the men were not given a chance to appeal. The flogging was administered immediately after the court hearing. No doctors have been allowed to see them.”

The asylum seekers had been arrested last Friday when police dispersed a sit-down protest by 300-500 people outside the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum. Eyewitnesses say officers attacked protesters with long wooden batons and tear gas canisters, provoking a dangerous stampede.

One witness, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “People were quietly sitting down on the pavement when suddenly the police came with big sticks and started to beat people. Then the military police arrived and fired teargas.

“People started to run but there was no way to escape except by jumping over a cemetery wall. Then it collapsed because so many people were jumping and pushing on it. All the people trying to escape were badly beaten as they ran, even me. It was painful.”

Use of overseas aid for this kind of political repression is “explicitly excluded” under criteria agreed by the OECD’s Development Assistant Committee last year.

The EU says it has not yet given any funds to the Sudanese government and that monies have been directed through international agencies.

However, a parliamentary delegation to Sudan in December said while EU stocks might not yet have arrived, it was clear that its funding projects “will be providing equipment to national police across the region for border control”.

Sudan is considered a key transit country for migrants to Europe. An estimated 30,000 people travelled through it on the way to Italy (pdf) in the first 11 months of 2016.

Around 500,000 refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia are currently thought to be in the country.

Last week, a British parliamentary inquiry warned that in Sudan, “the European Union’s long-held reputation as a human rights standard-bearer is in danger of being sacrificed at the altar of migration”.

Insecurity in Yemen threatens incoming refugees and migrants: It’s estimated that up to 290,000 refugees have entered Yemen since 2013: 80% from Ethiopia and the rest from Somalia. February 11, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

 

Since the civil war began in Yemen in 2015, the conditions there have only gotten worse and worse. So when you think of refugees, typically you think of people FLEEING the country and not trying to…

Source: Insecurity in Yemen threatens incoming refugees and migrants

The Oromo in Egypt: Why Have 11,000 Ethiopians Fled Their Homeland? November 15, 2016

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

The Oromo are the single largest ethno-national group in northeast Africa. In Ethiopia, they are estimated to comprise 50 million out of the country’s total population of 100 million.

Although the Oromo group is the largest among the country’s 80 ethno-national groups, it is the most oppressed group in Ethiopia and is subjected to torture and arrests from the government for demanding their rights.

“You’ll be oppressed just for being an Oromo; I was a teacher and I was telling students how to protest peacefully against what our territory is facing and the violations the government made,” Boushra told Egyptian Streets.


The Oromo in Egypt: Why Have 11,000 Ethiopians Fled Their Homeland?

NADA NADER, Egyptian Street,  
 
Students watch a movie being projected in the playground
Students watch a movie being projected in the playground of the African Hope Learning Center. Photo: Marwa Abdallah

A couple of weeks ago, a video that made the rounds on social media showed an Egyptian man chanting during an Oromo conference in Egypt that the Oromo will get their rights and come to power in Ethiopia.

The video resulted in minor disturbances in the otherwise stable Egyptian-Ethiopian relations for a few days, with a spokesman from the Ethiopian government accusing “elements” in Egypt of financing, arming and training armed groups in Ethiopia to undermine the government.

Egyptian authorities swiftly denied all such accusations, reiterating its full support and respect of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

Although the rift was short-lived and has since been forgotten, it is a fact that the presence of the Oromo people in Egypt has been increasing as of late.

The Oromo are the single largest ethno-national group in northeast Africa. In Ethiopia, they are estimated to comprise 50 million out of the country’s total population of 100 million.

Although the Oromo group is the largest among the country’s 80 ethno-national groups, it is the most oppressed group in Ethiopia and is subjected to torture and arrests from the government for demanding their rights.

Among the Oromo community, the majority is Muslim but there are also Christians and individuals of other religions living together in harmony without any discrimination within Oromia territory.

Since the Ethiopian government decided to implement the so-called “Integrated Addis Ababa Master Plan” to expand the Ethiopian capital, which is classified as one of the capital cities witnessing the greatest growth, it started dislocating the Oromo people from their farms without giving proper compensations.

Oromo demonstrations surfaced in Ginchi – about 80 kilometers southwest of the capital – in November 2015, with the Oromo protesting against the selling of the nearby Chilimongo forest, land seizures and the ongoing evictions of Oromo farmers.

Human Rights Watch accused Ethiopian security forces of killing 400 people during the protests. The chaos from the protests resulted in the imposition of martial law in the country, which remains under effect until this moment.

Last August, the Oromo and Amhara groups – which, together, form 80% of Ethiopia’s population – protested against the government for marginalizing the two groups, depriving them of their rights and barring them from holding top positions in the country.

Clashes during the protest resulted in the death of seven protestors who were calling for the release of political prisoners, freedom of expression and an end to human rights violations.

The Ethiopian authorities’ violations against the Oromo people have pushed many of the latter to flee the country, with some of them seeking refuge in Egypt.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, there were 11,192 Ethiopian asylum seekers in Egypt as of September. The number increased noticeably after the clashes between the Oromo and the Ethiopian authorities.

“Of course there’s a significant increase in numbers of Ethiopian refugees,” Tarek Argaz, a media official at UNHCR, told Egyptian Streets. “Since a year and a half, the number of asylum seekers was around 5,000.”

“The reason behind the increased flow of Ethiopian refugees to Egypt is that the Ethiopian authorities can’t arrest us here,” said 25-year-old Abdi Boushra, Director of the Oromo Volunteering Association School in the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Maadi.

Boushra says he fled Ethiopia after being detained for a year after being accused of being a member of the Oromo Liberation Front, an armed group that is outlawed by the Ethiopian government.

“You’ll be oppressed just for being an Oromo; I was a teacher and I was telling students how to protest peacefully against what our territory is facing and the violations the government made,” Boushra told Egyptian Streets.

“I got arrested for a year. Then I fled from Ethiopia to Sudan. I’m like many people who fled from Sudan to Egypt by smugglers through the desert. We paid around USD 300 to reach Egypt.”

Boushra says he spent three months in Sudan but described his time there as a “nightmare,” saying that Sudanese authorities extradite asylum seekers back to Ethiopia.

“If we went there, we will be killed,” Boushra says. “We never imagined to live in Egypt before because of the different culture and language but we come here to feel safe.”

Ashraf Melad, a lawyer and researcher on refugee affairs, described the legal situation of Ethiopian refugees in Egypt.

“The 2014 Egyptian constitution insisted to protect any asylum seeker but there’s no refugee law in Egypt. Egypt is only permitting asylum seekers to live on its land,” Melad told Egyptian Streets. “In case of committing crimes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs alerts the country of the asylum seeker who committed the crime.

“In [Sudan’s case], there’s an implicit convention between the Sudanese and Ethiopian governments of extraditing Ethiopian opposition and asylum seekers. It’s a deal which had no place in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations,” Melad added.

“The UNHCR is keen on giving each refugee his right and make sure that he deserves our help. We decreased the period for discussing the papers of people who seek asylum after they got the yellow card to live legally in Egypt from 28 months to 16 months to accept him as a refugee or not,” UNHCR’s Argaz said. “I consider this as an achievement because we have an increasing flow and a limited budget.”

Noura Mohamed, a house maid who fled from the conflict in Oromia with her 14-year-old son, resorted to smugglers to help her make her way to Egypt through Sudan, like many other Ethiopians fleeing their country.

“The [situation] in Oromia was unbearable. The security comes to arrest you in your home just for being Oromo,” Mohamed told Egyptian Streets. “The government killed my father during clashes.”

Mohamed says that, after working as a maid in Kuwait, she returned to Ethiopia, where she and her husband were detained for demonstrating “and for being an Oromo citizen in the first place.”

Mohamed was released after three months, while her husband is currently still in prison in Ethiopia.

“I wanted to bring up my only son, so I decided to flee no matter what will happen; there’s nothing worse than what we experienced,” Mohamed says.

However, she says that she is struggling in Egypt, where her monthly salary is EGP 1,500 but her rent is EGP 1,000 per month.

“The UNHCR gives me EGP 1,050 in annual expenses for my son but of course this isn’t enough,” she says.

To add to Mohamed’s woes, schools are not accessible to many asylum seekers in Egypt, making it difficult for her to secure an education for her son.

“Asylum seekers have no right to [enroll] their children in Egyptian schools; there are schools for refugees but we noticed that many Oromo children evade these schools because they’re irrelevant to their identity and language,” Boushra says.

In an attempt to address this issue, Boushra says that the community decided to establish a school to teach Oromo children the Oromo language, as well as English, Arabic and other subjects such as math and science.

“We are working in the school as volunteers and there are no fees for children,” Boushra says, adding that the school currently has 150 students but remains free of the supervision of any educational authority.

The school was established in hopes of helping the Oromo people in Egypt maintain their identity as they work to integrate themselves into the society as a whole.

While a number of Ethiopian refugees say they don’t face racism or ethnic discrimination in Egypt, seeking refuge in Egypt is not without its challenges.

Everyday, many refugees who enter Egypt illegally gather in front of the UNHCR headquarters in the 6th of October satellite city, waiting for their turn to be accepted as asylum seekers and begin integrating themselves in Egyptian society.

Mediapart au Théâtre de la Ville, à Paris:l’intervention de Solan, réfugié originaire d’Oromia, en Éthiopie: Solan, refugee from Oromia June 1, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo

 

 

 

Appeal for urgent action to UNHCR :Oromo Refugees in Egypt need immediate protection April 11, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Oromo, Oromo Refugees in Egypt.
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Odaa Oromoo Oromo refugees in Egypt, we need protection

 

Appeal for urgent action


 

Oromo Refugees in Egypt need your immediate protection
To: The United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR),
Geneva,


Australian Oromo Community Association expresses its deep concern about the rejection of Oromo refugee appeal for protection and resettlement case. We appeal to request your immediate action on a very urgent demand, particularly, that involving Oromo refugees living in Cairo, Egypt.
Oromo refugees fled their homeland to various neighboring countries to rescue their lives and their families. Majority experienced years of detention, torture and suffering behind bars while others escaped due to fear for their lives as the results of occurrences of unbearable human right violations in Ethiopia. Commonly, Oromo refugees have fled from the extra-judicial killings, removal from their properties and land confiscation, illegal arrests, trials without evidence, torture, and constant humiliations.
Therefore, rejection of their refugee case appeal for resettlement and protection means not only making them hopelessness and darken their futurity but also devastating for them as they are left without a guarantee from not to be deported back to Ethiopia that certainly exposing them to detention, torture, and possible death.
The Australian Oromo Community Association intensely concern for the physical and emotional well-being of these refugees and their families. We utterly believe these genuine Oromo refugees are forced to flee persecution and desperately search for safety and protection from violence and intimidation. They are in an extreme situation that needs your prompt action.
Regarding this urgent matter, the Australian Oromo Community Association appeals for your supportive action, and sincerely request to consider their case and continue processing their protection status and resettlement process in third countries. Please show your kind sympathy instantly to save these very vulnerable innocent Oromo refugees’ life in Cairo, Egypt.
Thank you for consideration of our concern and this urgent matter.


 

VIDEO: Oromo refugees protest for registration outside UNHCR Egypt

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentMulti/198854/Multimedia.aspx

Oromo refugee stranded on a boat in the Mediterranean October 30, 2015

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A refugee from Ethiopia stranded on a boat in the Mediterranean

(ICMC News, Geneva, 23 October 2015 – Abu Kurke Kabeto is a young man from the Oromo region of Ethiopia. He currently lives in the Netherlands with his wife and his two years-old child. When you look at him, the first thing that immediately strikes you is his friendly smile and his positive attitude. You would never imagine what he has gone through in his life.

abu-kurke-kabeto

Escaping from discrimination and repression against Oromo people in his country, Abu Kurke left Ethiopia in 2008 and went to Sudan. Through the Sahara desert he then reached Libya in 2009. From there, he made various attempts to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe. In 2010, he embarked on a rubber boat and made it to Lampedusa, Italy. However, the boat was pushed back to Libya by the Italian authorities. He ended up spending 8 months in prison in Libya.

In March 2011, he found himself again on a dinghy boat that attempted the sea crossing from Libya to Lampedusa with 72 migrants on board. After 19 hours at sea, the boat started running low on fuel, and people were beginning to feel anxious. They called Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest based in Europe, asking for help. After receiving the distress call, Father Zerai immediately alerted the Italian coast guard and NATO command in Naples. The Italian coast guard sent out an alert to all vessels in the area, asking for intervention.

The captain of the migrants’ boat suddenly received a call from the Italian authorities, who were asking for the GPS coordinates. Shortly after the call, the phone battery of the captain ran out. To make things worse, the boat completely ran out of petrol.

Abu recalls: “On the second day, the sea was getting very rough. That night two helicopters approached our boat. We saw them flying above us. We clearly recognized the word ‘Army’ written in English on one of them. Three white soldiers were on board. We thought we would be saved. But instead of rescuing us, the soldiers dropped water and some biscuits towards us. There were 72 people on the boat and, within three minutes, there was no water and no biscuits left.

We were communicating with them with our hands, as the noise of the helicopters was very loud. We showed them the two babies we had on board, and urged them to take them. But they said they couldn’t and they would come back later. We insisted, please please please, take the babies! They went away, and we never saw them again.

Three days later, two jet fighters came close to the boat. They went around us two times, the military officials took even pictures of us. In the meantime, the babies had died. We showed them their bodies, but they didn’t do anything. They went away.”

With no petrol left, no phone battery, the migrants were stranded in the middle of the Mediterranean for two weeks. Abu explains that people were going crazy. Some migrants jumped in the ocean, in despair. He started eating toothpaste in order to have the feeling to have something in his mouth. “Toothpaste is good food during these tough times” the captain said to Abu. Abu was badly suffering from an eye infection due to a sunburn. “When I ate the toothpaste, my eyes suddenly opened again”.

“It was horrible to see so many people dying in front of me, and not being able to do anything. But the worst thing was to hear the babies crying for so long and not being able to give them food, and eventually see them dying. Even today, I can’t forget the babies crying for food”.

Two weeks later the boat reached the coast. “We thought we were arriving in Italy and would finally be in Europe, but then we saw the Libyan sea flag and we realized that the boat had been drifted back to where it had started. We were back to Libya.” Abu and the other 9 survivors were very weak and needed medical care. “But instead of providing us access to medical facilities, they put us in prison”.

“Finally, it was the Catholic Church in Libya which provided us with medical care, as soon as we had been released from prison”. From Libya, he attempted the crossing again in July 2011 on a fishing boat, together with his wife. They finally made it to Lampedusa. From there, they reached the Netherlands, but were eventually arrested because of their double asylum requests in the European Union. Following the Dublin Regulation procedure, the Dutch authorities sent them back to Italy. Finally, thanks to the personal help of a Dutch Parliamentarian, Abu and his wife were finally able to get refugee status in the Netherlands.

Abu’s wife gave birth to their son in the Netherlands. Currently, the family receives a modest contribution from the government for accommodation, food, and education. Abu takes classes to learn Dutch and goes to college with the aim of getting a diploma in logistics. His wife took up training to become a nurse.

“Today, as I see many more people going through the same experience – like little Aylan Kurdi who was found dead on a beach in Turkey – my heart is broken. I feel very sad about what is still happening. The international community can do something to stop this situation. There is a solution: world leaders must remove dictators and ensure that people have rights in their countries, so that they are not forced to leave.”

 

Video

Watch the video of Abu Kurke Kabeto as he tells his story during the Global Forum on Migration and Development, held in Turkey from 12 to 16 October 2015.

Refugees walking from danger to danger: Members of Ethiopia’s largest national group, the #Oromo, which activists charge is systematically disenfranchised by the government are still heading to #Yemen September 17, 2015

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Walking into danger: migrants still head to Yemen
HARGEISA, 11 August 2015 (IRIN) – Qader and Abdi are two weeks into their journey. Carrying only one empty plastic water bottle each, flattened, with no liquid to return it to its cylindrical shape, the two men figure they will be walking for another month-and-a-half before they reach the sea. From there, they will take a smuggler boat the short distance to Yemen, where another 600-kilometre walk lies ahead before they may reach their final destination, Saudi Arabia.
The pair – members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, which activists charge is systematically disenfranchised by the government – are walking along an uncrowded road connecting the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa, to a northern port city. They walk because they cannot afford the roughly $150-200 that a series of smugglers would charge to take them from the Ethiopian border east through Somaliland to the port of Bosaso in the neighbouring semi-autonomous region of Puntland.“We will walk until we become weak,” said 30-year-old Qader, who withheld his last name to protect his identity. He and his 19-year-old companion are dressed in dirtied long-sleeve shirts to shield them from the early morning sun, which will become unbearable by midday. They have made it this far off the good will of Somalilanders who offer them small change or meals as they pass.There is a small risk they could be arrested so they veer off the paved road near checkpoints but quickly return so as not to lose their way. Although walking along roads in Somaliland – a self-declared nation that the international community still classifies as a region of Somalia – puts migrants like them at increased risk of robbery or assault, Somalilanders generally do not wish the duo ill will. Government officials have even been known to stop and provide food and drink to migrants despite their illegal status in the country.

When they reach Bosaso the help will likely come to an end and Qader and Abdi will have to pay. Unlike on land, which the destitute can traverse without charge as long as they can avoid arrest, the sea is only passable by ships operated by smugglers, who are more than happy to continue transporting people to war-torn Yemen for a fee.

Ever more dangerous journey

Migration to and through Yemen – historically the backdoor for migrants and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa trying to reach Saudi Arabia – has always put people at risk of death and inhumane treatment. Last year, there were numerous drownings in the Gulf of Aden and Human Rights Watch released a report in 2014 documenting “torture camps” where smugglers held newcomers for ransom.

But a civil war, precipitated by the departure of Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and a Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign to restore its legitimacy, has made an already perilous journey for migrants all the more death-defying.

“It’s very dangerous, and I cannot stress that enough,” said Teddy Leposky, an external relations officer for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in Yemen.

Not only has the war given smugglers license to act more ruthlessly than before, but also the ability of aid agencies to provide services to migrants and refugees has been severely compromised and the conflict’s violence has been indiscriminate. Five migrants were caught in shelling near the Saudi border in May and, at the end of March, a camp for displaced people camp was bombed, killing at least 45.

But as migrants and refugees know, the grinding poverty, political persecution or violence that typically push them out of the Horn of Africa, do not conveniently abate as wars break out in their path. So they continue to risk life and liberty and end up on Yemen’s shores. According to figures from UNHCR, more than 10,500 people have arrived in Yemen since March when the bombing campaign began. Although some of those might be part of the 51,000 who are now also leaving, as war in Yemen has created a circular flow in the region.

“I know it’s a high risk, but I will take it,” said Fila Aden, 24, in a café in Hargeisa. He is familiar with what lies ahead. This is the second time he left home in Ethiopia for work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Although he struggles to provide a precise timeline of events, he estimates he was deported from the kingdom about a month ago after working there for almost a year.Hiding the risks

Some aid officials believe that boat smugglers in Bosaso and Djibouti (for the Red Sea route to Yemen) may be downplaying the conflict in Yemen or flat-out lying to clients about the dangers they have seen.

Fila Aden in Hargeisa doesn’t doubt smugglers are sugarcoating forecasts, but he thinks the conflict in Yemen might actually work to his advantage. He is reassured by news that one of his friends just traversed Yemen and slipped unnoticed across the border with Saudi.

“We worry about Yemen. We could be accused of fighting [for a certain side] in the conflict. People are more paranoid now,” he said. “But looking at it from the Saudi perspective, they aren’t concerned about us. They are fighting a war in Yemen.”

As long as those like Aden are willing to go, there is money to be made. Several sources said the smugglers had doubled their asking price in Bosaso, which pre-war ran from $60 to $120 for the sea crossing. Omar, who asked that a pseudonym be used, smuggles Ethiopians from the border into Somaliland. He is fairly new, joining the ranks of the illicit business just five months ago. But the job has proven lucrative. He saw a drop in numbers around the time war broke out in Yemen, but Ramadan (which straddled June and July this year) was profitable, suggesting an uptick in those still willing to go to Yemen.

“People know damn well that they are taking a risk,” he said, when IRIN asked if smugglers were taking advantage of the war and luring clients under false pretenses. But he said smugglers too were taking extra risks, and more and more fearful of arrest. “I feel bad sometimes but what can I do? I have to make a living.”

No refuge any more

While Omar continues to facilitate a migrant march east, deteriorating conditions in Yemen have destroyed a refuge that many once sought.

Abdulqader Ahmed, a 17-year-old Ethiopian migrant, arrived in Yemen in March from Djibouti right as street battles began to erupt in the southern port city of Aden. He made his way to the UN-sponsored al-Kharaz camp nearby, too afraid to begin his journey north to Saudi Arabia. He watched as the camp ran short of food and water, with aid agencies unable to get supplies in. Finally, he managed to secure passage on a ship that evacuated him to Somaliland.

At a migrant response center in Hargeisa, where he was waiting to be repatriated back to Ethiopia, Ahmed said the war in Yemen had helped him reach the realisation that his goal of getting to Saudi Arabia would likely cost him his life. He now intends to return to farming with his father in Ethiopia, even though it will be almost impossible to earn a living.

For UNHCR’s Leposky, Yemen’s collapse is particularly concerning because of the country’s history of opening its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. He told IRIN that those arriving now in Yemen are making the costly journey across the sea only to find themselves in a similar situation, if not worse.

“It’s so unfortunate that a country that has provided protection and asylum to people for so many years is now in dire straits.”

http://m.irinnews.org/report/101848/walking-into-danger-migrants-still-head-to-yemen#.VfsJXNJVikq