By Seble Ephrem,
Over the summer months of 2014 various European countries reported that they were being innundated by a huge number of asylum seekers identifying themselves as ‘Eritrean’.
Denmark recorded a dramatic 500% spike, and ‘took the initiative to send a ‘fact finding mission’ to Eritrea to investigate the reasons for the sudden increase in numbers of people claiming to have left the country for political reasons.
Denmark’s Minister of Justice needed to know what it was all about prior to granting asylum to applicants. The governments of Germany, the Netherlands and Norway were also keenly observing these developments.
Italy, reportedly the country of entry for most people into Europe, covered by its Bossi Fini Law, pretended to be uninformed of the number of boat loads of people that perished regularly offshore within its territorial waters. Italian records apparently indicate that Eritrean migrants are the second largest in numbers after Syrians; while other West and East African nationals feature less.
DOES ONE HAND KNOW WHAT THE OTHER IS DOING?
The 1951 Geneva Convention on asylum and its 1967 Protocol are the legal instruments by which anyone in fear for his/her life and who is unable to avail himself/herself of protection from his or her own country, can claim asylum in another signatory country.
While each claim goes through a lengthy process prior to acceptance, his/her human rights to accommodation, health care, education and day to day subsistence remains the responsibility of the host country’s welfare system.
In the event the applicant is refused asylum he/she will have further three chances to appeal the decision. Until recently all the legal expenses that can run into thousands of UK pound sterling, were being paid by the host country.
If the outcome of an application is successful, the person will then have the right to apply for family reunion and would be likely to bring family members (wife or husband and children) into a host country such as the UK. On arrival of the family, a relatively larger accommodation is provided together with education, health care and related social benefits.
The Geneva Convention came into being as a result of human atrocities perpetrated on human beings by fellow humans, during World War II. Without it, we would be living in a brutal world without the protection of human life and the surety it gives to the right to live. It was not intended for misuse and abuse motivated by external political and/or individual economic gain. It is a humanitarian legal instrument that was intended to be free from international political, foreign policy agenda of signatory countries. It was certainly not created to give blanket acceptance to all asylum applicants without due process. The European public is angry because they know it cannot be Christmas all of the time.
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES ANOTHER OPENS
Following decolonisation in Africa and the other developing countries, climate change, globalisation and subsequent downturn of the economies that befell many countries, it was only logical that human beings worst affected would migrate to places that appear to offer better chances of survival. The general trend of migration became noticeably South-North, as opposed to trends pre-WWII, which were predominantly East-West.
The harder the economies of the West were hit, the more aggressive their search and exploitation of natural resources became. The rich mineral and other precious resources are mostly located in the South. And so the vicious cycle continues with the might and power to exploit resources, including human, remaining in the hands of a few. The resulting gap in wealth accumulation grows wider creating and sustaining inevitable conflict for control of resources and survival at all cost.
THE RULE OF LAW REPLACED BY THE RULE OF THE JUNGLE
Some fine pieces of legislation by which fundamental human right to life were governed, including freedom of movement, safety, respect, speech, belief, have been gradually eroded and applied only selectively and to serve particular interests of dominant countries.
It is ironic on the 10th December 2014 the UN Human Rights Day, the most flagrant breach of human rights, torture, as practiced by the nation that claims to be the symbol of democracy, the United States of America, came to light. The release of the CIA report exposing the worst abuses of human rights, has irreparably dented the reputation and integrity and trustworthiness in the nation’s practices.
At the same time it has for several years been the practice of the powerful nations to bash smaller countries for breaching the Rule of Law.
Applying sanctions and other similar penalties are deliberately designed to impoverish and weaken them – in the case of Eritrea, on the basis of false accusations systematically fabricated by the Ethiopian Government and its international advisors. What is being done by western governments to destroy Eritrea is unacceptable to the people of the country, but they are not being given opportunities to be heard or read.
The dominant international media outlets have long been concocting and orchestrating lies about Eritrea and covering up for Ethiopia.
The US-Ethiopia campaigns to dissuade international organisations from working in Eritrea; and if they do, to discredit them in the face of the facts on the ground, are practices that certainly do not come under the Rule of Law. The political works on emigration/immigration, pull/push attractions in order to create imbalances, displacements and confusion within Eritrean/Ethiopian societies are all a part of such cover ups.
To come full circle, the problems created within certain countries by external politically motivated powers in order to facilitate economic ameliorations for their own short term benefits have now come to roost. Is it time to grin and bear the consequences or go to extreme lengths pretending to be a benevolent humanitarian? The long term sustainability of human lives and livelihoods is constantly being undermined by short sighted political power struggles and sheer greed.
The Danes that came back with a report based mostly on local interviews and information obtained from respectable diplomatic missions has now been criticised by bodies that have never set foot in Eritrea or that may have done at some distant past. Eritrea must be the buttered side of the toast for such individuals and organisations who cannot afford to lose a lifeline.
Denmark is feeling the squeeze between a rock and a hard place. The diplomats who contributed to the report were not named. That would be understandable because they would otherwise be targets of vicious individual attacks and harassments that is common practice by those who are threatened by the truth. But the diplomats surely cannot have been providing false information? Has Denmark inadvertently rocked the boat for NGO’s and the EU? Have some lucrative posts and organisations been financially affected as a result of the publication of the report?
Norway, Germany, Holland appear to be lined up to investigate human rights practices in Eritrea. It is not clear, however, whether they are also likely to turn a blind eye to the ‘elephant in the room’ – Ethio-US interests in the region.
A delegation from the UK Home Office and FCO are currently reported to be in Eritrea looking into the migration and trafficking matters resulting from, as the Danish report indicated, 99% economic causes. They have publicly indicated ‘surprise’ at the welcome accorded and the access granted to them as they carried out their assignment.
All the events and diplomatic activities are happening within a spate of a couple of months.
What is it all about? Honest concern – Benevolence – Coincidence – Eritrea’s Business Potential – the attractive emerging mining industries – Exploitation – Other? Let it not be said that the reason is within the “Rule of Law” – that would be a mockery.