It is known to the whole world that hundreds of Eritreans flee their country every day to escape the tortures, repression and suffering perpetrated by the Eritrean regime. Their suffering has followed them even outside the Eritrean borders: extensive networks of human traffickers including the Bedouin in the Sinai desert, Egypt, have exploited them, tortured them, raped them and even killed them.
There is a large number of Eritrean Refugees in Libya, most of them in the capital, Tripoli. During the current popular uprising in the country, their lives have been put in danger. Although it is difficult to get information from Libya, already the murder of two Eritrean refugees has been confirmed.
Less than a month ago, twenty-seven Eritrean Refugees moved from Tripoli to Rabesh Gedima, in Benghazi, to work for a company. Following the popular uprising, a group of people broke into the company where the Eritrean Refugees were staying and attacked them with iron bars, knives and machetes critically injuring three of them. Robel and Yared went out searching for medicines for the wounded but they were shot dead by armed citizens. Now the remaining twenty-five people, including the wounded, are hiding underground in a certain location in Benghazi with no food, water supplies or medicines. How long will it be before they are discovered and attacked?
The group had approached the British rescue ship that has been sent to Bengazhi port to evacuate British nationals asking them to assist in their evacuation, but they had refused.
In a similar incident, on the 22nd and 23rd of February, a group of armed civilians abduct nineteen Eritreans out of their houses in Tripoli. It is not yet known what has happened to them. Human Rights Concern Eritrea has also received information that three Eritrean Refugees have taken refuge at the Swiss Embassy in Tripoli.
Given the fact that there are some African mercenaries among the government’s forces who are involved in the killing of protesters, the sub-Saharan Africans are in a dangerous situation. As has been reported by many media outlets, including the BBC and Al Jazeera, they are seen by the Libyan protesters as enemies and murderers of the Libyan people. It seems the Libyan protesters are taking revenge on them, and it is feared that a mass massacre of the Sub-Saharan African migrants may be the result. Due to the little information available, we do not yet know the full scale and nature of the tragedy of the Eritrean refugees.
It is worth noting that the case of Eritrean refugees differs from that of other African migrants because there is no responsible Eritrean government that can come to their rescue to evacuate them. If they return to their own country, Eritrea, they face the danger of torture, murder and imprisonment.
Human Rights Concern Eritrea is deeply concerned about the fate of the Eritrean refugees caught up in the Libyan uprising. Human Rights Concern Eritrea therefore urges governments, embassies, human rights organizations, humanitarian organizations, UN agencies and concerned individuals to do all they can and act urgently to save and protect the Eritrean refugees through the following means:
- Including them in your respective evacuation arrangements and plans
- Providing them with protection and shelter in your embassies, offices, etc as well as negotiating on their behalf with concerned authorities, groups and individuals to make sure their safety is protected;
- Establishing assembly points for protection and evacuation;
- Providing, collecting and sharing information about their situation, what they need, where to get assistance and whom to contact in case of emergency, and
- Lobbying governments on their behalf to provide them with protection and support.
February 25, 2011