A major conference, taking place in Brussels on 19 October 2017, will focus mainly on the plight of Eritrean refugees Europe. Organized under the theme of ‘Eritrea and the On-going Refugee Crisis in Europe,’ the conference will address the changing approach on the part of European immigration authorities towards Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers. The conference will spotlight the worsening human rights crisis in Eritrea as sufficiently documented by the UN commission of inquiry and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights is Eritrea. Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur, will appear in the conference as a keynote speaker.
Refugees, civil society actors and experts are also expected to discus various issues ranging from the general situation of human rights in Eritrea, to indefinite military conscription, forced labour, and gender-based violence. The conference will conclude by identifying better mechanisms for the protection of Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees in Europe.
As part of preparations for the conference, the organizers have just concluded a three-day intensive lobbying mission in Brussels with the aim of inviting participation from EU parliamentarians and policy makers, who will appear in the conference as moderators and discussants. The visit to Brussels took place from 25 to 28 September 2017. This was a follow-up to a similar visit conducted on 26 and 27 June 2017.
Dr. Daniel Mekonnen from ELS stated after the latest visit: “We hope that the conference will help in promoting informed decision-making processes on the part of European immigration and asylum authorities.” Rudi Friedrich from Connection e.V. added: “The EU officials consulted during the visit have shown a serious interest in the issues to be discussed at the conference. For us, it is clear that, due to the peculiar political situation in their home country, Eritrean refugees do qualify for full protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention.”
Eritrea is the fastest emptying country in the world and many of those fleeing the country are finding their way to Europe at huge personal cost. Eritrea continues to occupy a central place in on-going migration debates in Europe. For more than a decade, Eritreans have been among the largest group of newly arriving refugees, and the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as a “mass grave of refugees” is owed in part to the many victims originating from Eritrea.
More information about the conference can be found at the following links:
A joint press release of the organisers of the conference in German is available here: https://de.connection-ev.org/article-2523
The latest visit to Brussels included representatives of Connection e.V., EEPA and ELS. The conference is organised by the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights, EEPA, Förderverein Pro Asyl e.V., Connection e.V., War Resisters’ International, and Eritrean Law Society. It is kindly hosted by the Representation of the State of Hessen to the European Union.
Additional Information about the Brussels Visit of September 2017
During the latest visit to Brussels, consultations have taken place with the following actors.
1. From the EU Parliament:
Jordi Solé (Spain): Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance; among others, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Budgets;
Barbara Lochbihler (Germany): Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Human Rights and Foreign Policy Spokesperson of the Greens/EFA Group;
Ignazio Corrao (Italy): Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group; among others, Member of the Committee on Development (DEVE), Member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights;
Enrique Guerrero Salom (Spain): Vice-President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Development (DEVE), Members of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly;
Heidi Hautala (Finland): Vice-Chair of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament; among others, Member of the Committee on Development (DEVE)
Soraya Post (Sweden): Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament; among others, Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Member of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights
2. From Permanent Representations to the EU:
Helge Flärd: Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU, Delegate to the Africa Working Party (COAFR) of the Council of the EU;
Jorge Portas: Permanent Representation of Portugal to the EU, Counsellor for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA);
Ly Parn: Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU, Counsellor for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA);
Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU;
A scheduled meeting with the Permanent Representation of Norway to the EU was cancelled due to last minute and unexpected change of plan on the part of the Norwegian Representation.