ISRAEL: Stateless Eritreans secretly moved to Uganda
|Arrival. An International Organisation for Migration official attends to the migrants last year. Most of the refugees expelled from Israel are youth between 18 and 24 years.|
By DAILY MONITOR
Najjanankumbi, on the edge of the Kampala City, is a shabby suburb area dotted with desultory iron-roofed houses. But this suburb is a beautiful chaos that has warmly embraced Eritreans fleeing the rule of Afewerki.
First, there were scores that directly relocated from Asmara and other Eritrean towns.
Many were escaping harsh conditions and a clampdown on civil liberties by Afewerki. Of late, the numbers are growing after Israel forcefully expelled scores of Eritrean refugees.
Daily Monitor has learnt that some of the expelled immigrants are being brought into the country in a method akin to trafficking. Once inside Uganda, they are unable to claim refugee status due to the manner in which they were relocated.
“The Israeli government gave us $3,500 (about Shs13m) each and put us on a plane destined for Kigali, Rwanda. At Kigali airport, a person received us and took us to a hotel where we stayed for two days. It was then that we were each asked to pay $250 (about Shs940,000),” reveals one of the immigrants, whose identity is concealed for his safety.
“They claimed the money was to facilitate our transfer to Kampala.
Instead the journey to Kampala was through irregular routes through bushes and footpaths using taxis. We finally made it safely to Kampala. I strongly believe that the person who received us at Kigali airport and escorted us to Kampala was part of the bigger Israel-Rwanda governments’ network,” says another source.
Uganda has a favourable refugee process and currently is home to about 1.4 million, many of them escaping the war in DR Congo and South Sudan.
However, those who enter through unlawful means are treated as illegal immigrants.
“All those who gain access to the country through forests and lakes once found are subjected to the law. They are treated as illegal immigrants and as such prosecuted,” Mr Jacob Simunyu, the Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson, says.
As the numbers of those entering Uganda illegally swell, Eritrean organisations in Uganda have formed lobby groups demanding a proper registration of their colleagues who have been expelled from Israel.
“There is a legal dilemma. They are neither migrants nor refugees. So, they are stateless here. They don’t have a document to show they are Sudanese or Eritrean,” the former Eritrean court judge, Mr Muluberham Berhe, who fled Asmara and now lives in Kampala, says.
Human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi offers pro-bono legal services to the Eritreans but claims he was frustrated.
“What I had planned to do was to seek a declaration that these people are refugees here and they should be protected. They should be given settlement, some land and some food. But this person [Eritrean] eluded me and many others have all eluded me,” he says.
|Refugees. Uganda is home to more than one million refugees mainly from Eritrea, South Sudan, DR Congo and Rwanda. URN PHOTO|
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: July 08, 2019 at 07:22PM