Three Eritrean organizations on 10 September 2018 sent an urgent appeal to High Commissioner Filippo Grand of the UNHCR asking for the agency’s most immediate action to help save the lives of Eritrean and other refugees who are trapped in the war-torn Libyan city of Tripoli where intensive battles are raging between militias since late August this year.
The joint appeal was issued by the United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ), majority of whose members are in Israel; the Eritrean National Salvation (ENS-Hidri) and the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP).
Copied also to the commissions of the European Union, the African Union and concerned humanitarian organizations, the memorandum noted that helpless Eritrean refugees and migrants stranded in Libya are dying on daily basis not only by stray bullets but also because of food and shelter.
The memo stressed that it was high time that UNHCR and international and regional humanitarian agencies consider Libya a “topmost Humanitarian Disaster Zone” and initiate an emergency response” to save lives, as EU did after the Lampedusa tragedy of 3 October, 2013.
The three Eritrean organizations also expressed regret that certain quarters are airing the false assumption that “change has come to Eritrea” and that third-country resettlement for Eritreans refugees has to be halted.
The memo reaffirmed the fact that nothing has changed in Eritrea and will never change “until the criminal regime of dictator Isaias Afeworki and his small clique is removed from power and replaced by a democratic system of governance”.
Copied below is the full text of the joint Eritrean memorandum.
Joint Eritrean Appeal for Support to Victimized
Eritrean Refugees in Libya
To: H.E. Mr. Filippo Grandi,
C.C:European Union, Brussels
African Union, Addis Ababa
Concerned Humanitarian Agencies
September 10, 2018
Your Excellency Mr. Filippo Grandi,
This joint appeal from us, Eritrean justice seekers struggling for democratic change in our desperate country, earnestly wish to draw your most immediate attention to the highly disturbing situation of Eritrean asylum seekers stranded in today’s lawless Libya and those in Niger camps waiting for never fulfilled promise for third-country resettlement.
The worst and priority cases are 8,000 refugees, a good number of them Eritreans, scattered in the streets of Tripoli where battles are raging on daily basis since 26 August 2018. These unprotected refugees and migrants are without food and shelter and dying at alarming rates. Similarly, those held hostage by middlemen and human traffickers in Libya are crying for your and humanity’s attention.
We believe it is high time that UNHCR and sister agencies consider Libya the topmost Human Disaster Zone in the world and ask an emergency response of the UN Security Council and regional actors like the European Union.
Dear High Commissioner,
We in the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP); United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ), and the Eritrean National Salvation (ENS-Hidri) addressing this appeal as part of the Eritrean opposition camp in exile, are equally disturbed by the false assumption of certain quarters that “change has come to Eritrea” and that third-country resettlement for Eritreans refugees has to be halted for now.
We strongly reject and denounce this wild supposition and wishful thinking of certain interested quarters and consider it as an insult to injury to victimized Eritreans. They know, as we know, that nothing has changed in Eritrea and that nothing is expected to change until the criminal regime of dictator Isaias Afeworki and his small clique is removed from power and replaced by a democratic system of governance.
Dear High Commissioner Grandi,
As mentioned in recent Eritrean appeals to your esteemed office, Eritrean refugees were among those who died at the Bani Walid killings by human traffickers, and that the fate of those 140 survivors of the massacre is still precarious. Likewise, the majority of those hapless Eritrean families taken from Libya to Niamey, Niger, for possible third-country resettlement are still languishing in refugee centers with little hope in the air.
You may recall the Lampedusa tragedy of five years ago in which over 360 Eritreans perished because of lack of goodwill to save them. Your Excellency may also know that it was the Lampedusa disaster involving Eritrean lives that triggered the EU to take up, at least for some time, the responsibility of saving lives in the gateways to Europe. There is no doubt that Eritrean deaths, in comparison to the small size of the Eritrean population, were very high among the estimated 33,000+ deaths in the Mediterranean Sea over the last few decades.
Today, big numbers of Eritreans are still dying within the territory of Libya, and we hope an action similar to what the EU did after Lampedusa will be initiated by the UNHCR and launched at global level to save refugee lives in Libya.
Trusting that this message will draw the attention of UNHCR, and through it of all concerned bodies in the international community, we remain, Sir,
The Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)
United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ)
The Eritrean National Salvation-Hidri (ENS-Hidri)