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Refoulement of refugees from Somaliland to Ethiopia

Posted: Muddee/December 29, 2011 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com | Comments (5)

The following is a press release from the Oromia Support Group (OSG).

Oromia Support Group
60 Westminster Rd, Malvern
Worcs, WR14 4ES, UK
Tel +44 (0)1684 573722
Mob +44 (0)7989 737585
Email osg@talktalk.net

Press Release 30 December 2011

Refoulement of refugees from Somaliland to Ethiopia

Twenty refugees from Ethiopia were detained by Somaliland security forces on 22 December and are believed to have been handed over to Ethiopian forces at the border town of Wachale on 28 December, against international law.

The government of Somaliland warned 90,000 immigrants that they had to leave several months ago and at least half had left when the government, responding to a request from the Ethiopian government at the beginning of September, announced it was cracking down on illegal immigrants. Ethiopia requested the return of 500 political refugees, mostly Oromo accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

At the beginning of 2011, in order to encourage their integration into the local community, UNHCR withdrew allowances to two thirds of the 470 recognised refugees and their families. In October, the Somaliland government announced that it was no longer legal to employ or rent property to illegal immigrants. Employers and landlords, many of whom by this time were owed several months rent, did not distinguish refugees and asylum-seekers from illegal immigrants.

The refugees and more than 2400 registered asylum-seekers (plus many more who wished to register) were therefore made destitute. Fearing imprisonment, torture and other abuses if they returned to Ethiopia, several hundred refugees and asylum-seekers camped at the Social Welfare Centre, run by Save the Children and funded by UNHCR, in the capital.

A number of Oromo, Eritrean and Ogadeni refugees have been refouled from Somaliland to Ethiopia in recent years, including earlier in 2011 (see below). At least three recognised refugees were taken on 25/26 October and at least one on 10 November.

Following a visit by the Interior Ministry to the Social Welfare Centre the previous day, a delegation of 20 refugee representatives, including five women, met at the Interior Ministry with UNHCR on 22 December. When the refugee delegates refused to agree to move from the Social Welfare Centre, they were taken away in two police vehicles.

On 28 December they were reported by several sources to be in detention in Wachale. According to one source they were handed over to Ethiopian security forces at midday. The refoulement of recognised refugees contravenes the UN Convention on Refugees. The remaining refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants in Somaliland are at risk of being forcibly repatriated to Ethiopia.

The twenty, including two breast-feeding mothers, who are feared to have been refouled on 28 December are:

Abdurahman Yousuf Mohamed | 758-08C00303
Abdulaziz Ahmed Ali | 758-06C00349
Abdele Tefo (Tato/Tabso Nure) | REC/0355/08
Abdeta Saniyo (Sayo/Saliye Yuye) | 758-08C00224
Abyot Abera Gebre-Selassie | 758-04C0027
Amina Mohamed Umar
Amir Tamam Hassan | REC/0344/08
Araya Berhanu Rada | 758-04C002
Fatuma Jibril
Getachew Feyisa Sarda | 758-08C00146
Hawa Mume
Junedin Ali Mergan
(Barsisa) Kalif Hassen Ahmed | REC/0554/08
Mohamed Aliyi Haji
Mohamed Nure Ibrahim (Ali) | REC/1238/08
Mohamed Yusuf Mustefa | 758-06C00081
Nasir Usmael Muse | RF/SOMHA/07C002
Sada Mohamed Ali
Said Tumo (Tulu) Nure | REC/0231/08
Shito Aliyi

Other recent incidents of refoulement from Somaliland:

Recognised refugee Abdusalam Haji Muktar was detained on 20 April 2011 in Hargeisa. Despite the efforts of UNHCR, he was refouled 3-4 months later. Refugees Reyad Kemal Hussen (file no.758-04C00245), Ali Ibrahim Haji and Abdurahman Mohamed Qabatoo (aka Sheikh Abdurahman Qabatoo) were seized during the night on 25/26 October; Abdishukuur Mohamed Usman (file no. 2006/055) was taken at midnight 10 November. These are believed to have been refouled. Another man, taken in the same period, escaped from detention.

OSG calls on supporters to register their concerns, about these episodes of refoulement and the possibility of more incidents, with diplomatic missions of the Republic of Somaliland and with UNHCR representatives in their host countries.

— For a copy of the above statement in a pdf format, please click here.


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  1. Gutu

    Dec 30, 11 at 4:26 am

    I am really great-full to Oromia support group for its effort for the protection of Oromo and other Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers who are suffering in different Ethiopian neighbor countries .Oromo political and civic organisations and all international human right Organisations and communities have to stand by the side of those refugees and asylum seekers and urge those host countries to protect the refugees rights in accordance to the international laws and UN convention.

  2. Hassan Madar

    Dec 31, 11 at 5:02 am

    I am ashamed as a Somalilander and sadden to be human being to hear that my own Somaliland government who should know better (just remember a lot of Somalilanders were in refugee camps in Ethiopia not long ago) is returning refugees and asylum seeker forcefully against their wishes to Ethiopia. Just imagine, I am Canadian citizen now but once I was asylum seeker in Canada. I cannot bear the thought of forcefully returning asylum seeker.

  3. Deenta

    Jan 8, 12 at 2:24 am

    Thank you Mr Hassan Madar. Your statement critisizing action by the Somaliland authorities is an example to all Africans. We should never let our governments do harm to neighbors as well as our own civilians. I expect Oromo to do the same regarding officials in Oromia regional government who participate in TPLF led persecution of Ogaden, Somalia, Anuak and Oromo civilians.

  4. ZAKARIYA ahmed

    Feb 7, 12 at 3:09 am

    Galatoomii Mr. Hasan Madar yadaa kee halaani itti gamadee. maali ani mataa kiyyaaf haali somali land namoota keenyaa irrati hojatamee seana keesatii waan hin irraafatamnee.ani mataa kiyyaaf rorroon naatii jabaatee hargesaa keysaa gargarsaa Rabbiitin dubbii keysa jirachaa jiraa.namotaa ani biraa dhufee garuu haali keysaa jiraan dubaacudhaaf nii hulftaa kafuu yaa ilmaan oromoo hundii rakkoo tana ciinaa haa dhabnuu ,galatomaa.

  5. mohanad hussen

    Feb 22, 12 at 10:51 am

    argaa kiyya kana