By Gil Ronen,
A REPORT issued in late March by the British Home Office determines that defectors from the Eritrean army do not, in fact, face life-threatening danger in Eritrea, and therefore do not deserve refugee status in other countries. Britain has issued new guidelines for dealing with the Eritreans who have flooded that country.
The British report is largely based on a report issued in Denmark in November, which has come under fire from “human rights” groups and the UNHCR.
Israel has the largest population of Eritrean
infiltrators economic migrants, numbering about 40,000. If Israel adopts similar conclusions to those of the British report, it will be able to begin deporting Eritreans even against their will – something it has not done until now, because of the concern that they might face death at home.
The UNHCR is scheduled to issue a comprehensive report on Eritrea in June.
Speaking on Army Radio, Yonatan Yaakobovich of the Center for Israeli Immigration Policy, a non-leftist NGO, said that the report “confirms” what has been known for a long time – that the Eritrean deserters do not face danger. He added that Eritrea purposely maintains the lie regarding that supposed danger because Eritreans who work outside Eritrea are the nation’s largest source of income. “One third of Eritrea’s GDP comes from the money sent by emigrants,” he noted.
Israel has the largest population of Eritrean immigrants in the world, Yaakobovich added.
According to the new British Home Office guidelines, National Service in Eritrea no longer constitutes persecution, or degrading or inhuman treatment, nor does it constitute forced labor. Therefore, Eritrean conscripts or draft evaders who exit illegally either to avoid conscription or to desert from the National Service will not be granted refugee status.
The Home Office report notes that those who left Eritrea illegally are not at risk of harm provided they have paid the 2% income tax Eritreans living abroad have to pay, and have signed a “letter of apology” at an Eritrean embassy.
Those who abscond from military or national service are not viewed as traitors or political opponents and as a result, the report explains, it is unlikely that such persons would be detained upon return. Rather, the most likely outcome for evasion or desertion is the requirement to return to military or national service.